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Church could provide higher office

PUBLISHED: 15:42 17 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

A DISUSED church could hold the key to providing much needed office space for more than 40 community orientated groups in Ipswich. Ipswich Council for Voluntary Service (ICVS) is asking members to vote on one of two churches to be turned into small office units.

A DISUSED church could hold the key to providing much needed office space for more than 40 community orientated groups in Ipswich.

Ipswich Council for Voluntary Service (ICVS) is asking members to vote on one of two churches, which will be turned into as many as 15 small office style units.

And, if Ipswich is to take part in the current trend of hot-desking - the practice of using workspace when it is needed rather than occupying it permanently - the number of businesses to benefit could double or triple in number.

The two prospective sights are St Laurence Church in Dial Lane and St Clement's in Star Lane.

ICVS want to create new office space to take some of the strain from the current accommodation that the council provided for the voluntary sector in Tower Street.

Richard Middleton, of ICVS said that since this space was provided, demand has outstripped the supply.

"Two groups, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Disabled Advice Bureau, now occupy half of the building so there is only enough space for six small organisations.

"Companies need these spaces to provide dignity, confidentiality and respect as they may well be dealing with sensitive issues.

"We want to provide affordable rented office space. This is important to the growth of the voluntary community sector in Ipswich which has never been more important as it draws different groups together."

The converted church will provide a reception area, disabled access and conference rooms, but an important part of the scheme is that the actual structure of the church will not be affected.

"Whatever decision is taken, the diocese should be involved in the process. They should approve what we are doing" said Mr Middleton.

St Laurence was thought to have been the best choice, but has problems with access, transport and parking and it also already has a potential user.

However, St Clement's church is close to the regenerating Wet Dock area and is in good repair, has convenient parking and is on a bus route.

"It would be a carrot to funders and will help to promote Ipswich as a town that cares" said Mr Middleton.

He added that the most likely applicants for space in the church would be resident groups, interest groups and welfare groups and that money to fund the project will come from local businesses and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

n ICVS would like to hear from any group or organisation who believe that they will have a need to move into well equipped, convenient rooms at an affordable rent in about three years time. Interested groups can contact Richard Middleton on (01473) 251834

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