Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 7°C

min temp: 1°C

Search

Ipswich: When will the County Hall shame be put right?

09:00 21 November 2012

County Hall

County Hall

Archant

THREE months ago The Star published shocking photographs which revealed how thieves, vandals and rough-sleepers had wrecked County Hall.

shares

But today, despite repeated calls for plans to be drawn up to protect the landmark, it remains in an appalling state.

Now The Star is demanding action is taken to save the former home of local government in Suffolk – before it’s too late.

The historic heart of County Hall – St Helen Court – remains insecure and recent attempts by the borough to contact the building’s owner have failed.

There is hope that another organisation will take on the restoration of one of the town’s best-known buildings – but the size of the project could be an obstacle and it is not clear what its future use could be.

Redundant council buildings

WHEN the county council sold all the buildings that made up the former county hall, there were clear plans for many of them.

Its buildings in Rope Walk, including St Edmund House, were sold to the East of England Development Agency. Most were demolished to make way for Suffolk New College – the future of St Edmund House which was built in 1984 remains unclear, but it is likely to eventually be sold off as offices by its current owners, the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Unattractive 1950s-build offices were demolished and new homes have been built – but that was not an option for the historic former heart of the council.

Its listing means that not only its external appearance but also its interior has to be retained – making any redevelopment problematic.

The Victorian Society has placed the landmark on its national “at risk” register. It is also listed by the borough as one of the town’s most at risk buildings.

County Hall hit the international headlines in the 1930s when Wallis Simpson was granted her divorce there to allow her to marry King Edward VIII, which sparked the abdication crisis.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer echoed The Star’s plea: “This is a very well-known building at the entrance to the town centre and all efforts must be put into trying to bring it back into use,” he said.

The Star has made repeated attempts to contact the building’s owners but the firm has never returned our calls to discuss County Hall’s future.

The business – Rainbow Developments Ltd, through its associated company County Hall (Ipswich) Management Ltd – has also proved difficult to contact for borough officials, who are keen to discuss ways in which to secure the site from trespassers.

Both companies are registered at an address in Park Lane, Puckeridge, Hertfordshire. Both have had the same director registered – David Hugh Harris.

Mr Harris is also a director of another company – M&D Developments – which is based at Hengrave Hall near Bury St Edmunds and is responsible for the management of the building that has been empty since the county council moved to Endeavour House in 2004.

County Hall (Ipswich) Management is listed in its most recent accounts, dated in February, as having no assets and no cash in the bank – it is described as a “dormant company” by online credit checking agencies.

The Star even visited the firms’ registered address in Hertfordshire, but was unable to track down the director. We have called M&D Developments three times over the last month. Each time we were told that a director was not available but that our message would be passed on and someone would call back. No return calls have been received.

Representatives from M&D Developments had been due to meet officials from the borough council to discuss the future of the building, which dates from 1837.

However conservation officer Gail Broom said attempts to contact the managers responsible for County Hall recently had proved fruitless.

She said: “Recently I have heard nothing from them.” Ms Broom said she was concerned about the effect of rain seeping into the building, possibly followed by sleet and snow as the winter sets in.

Related articles

shares

4 comments

  • Demolish it! Turn the ground into a car park. The building has always been an ugly looking eyesore.

    Report this comment

    David White

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

  • Ive been in there to do some photography and its terrible. 100 odd years of history wrecked. Stained glass windows smashed, old woodwork in the main court rotting and broken from vandals. history doesnt mean anything these days unless it involves profit. Maybe the evening star could do a centre piece on it and il let them use some of my pictures.

    Report this comment

    Michael Brooks

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

  • Is there still such a thing as a compulsory purchase order?

    Report this comment

    Toilet Bloo

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

  • Short of physically moving it to the Waterfront, there is little hope of money being spent on it in this town.

    Report this comment

    england1770

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Remnants of what is thought to be an 18th century ship found by Mark Hopkins on Thorpeness beach

Remnants of a what is thought to be a centuries-old shipwreck have resurfaced on the Suffolk coast.

Early morning sunrise at Southwold - visit the pier for a quirky day out

With Valentine’s Day nearly upon us, editor in chief Terry Hunt has shared his list of Suffolk’s top 10 romantic places - so there is no excuse not to make your beloved feel special.

How will you make your Valentine feel special this weekend?

A secret admirer has come clean about his feelings for a shop assistant in Ipswich - could you be the object of his affections?

An artist's impression of the street scene at Wolsey Grange.

Plans for hundreds of homes on the outskirts of Ipswich have been approved – despite being shot down at a previous meeting.

An early 'dishwasher' at the 1920 Ideal Home Show Exhibition - they don't build them like they used to

They don’t build them like they used - that is the sentiment of a Suffolk man who has finally scrapped his trusty dishwasher 27 years after it was first installed.

Beardmore Park.
lings

The relocation of a Martlesham garden centre, which had been facing closure, could pave the way for Marks and Spencer to expand its neighbouring store significantly.

St Mary-at-the-Quay church.

The medieval Waterfront building is undergoing a £5million transformation to become a multi-use community centre with a wellbeing and heritage centre theme.

The accident happened on the A12 at Chelmsford

All lanes have now reopened on the A12 at Chelmsford following an accident in which a man died this morning.

A few views of the river Stour at Flatford

From gusty wind and grey skies, to calm waters and a sneaky peak at the winter sun - this week has been a changeable one weatherwise.

A collision on East Mersea Road between a bus and a low-loader lorry which was carrying a steam engine.  Photo: Su Anderson

A bus driver who was critically injured in a crash involving a lorry carrying a 15 tonne steam engine told emergency teams to leave him and help his passengers instead.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24