Council HQ set to move
HUNDREDS of council staff could be on the move to smart new offices next to Portman Road, The Evening Star can reveal today.Ipswich council chiefs are considering moving into the new offices which were being built for energy giant TXU before the company went into administration in November.
HUNDREDS of council staff could be on the move to smart new offices next to Portman Road, The Evening Star can reveal today.
Ipswich council chiefs are considering moving into the new offices which were being built for energy giant TXU before the company went into administration in November.
"It's one option we are looking at very closely," said council chief executive James Hehir.
"This building is now well over 30 years old and needs a lot of money spent on it – we have to consider all the options and the TXU building is one of them."
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The prospect of Ipswich council moving away from Civic Centre, its home since the late 1960s, first became apparent last year.
The Evening Star revealed that the Civic Centre and police station had been allocated for housing in the new local plan for the town.
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At that time council officials were considering moving to a new site in the waterfront area of the town.
That remains a possibility – but with the collapse of TXU, the chance of moving to its partially-completed new headquarters has become a strong possibility.
"We are very keen to see that occupied. If the council was to move there, we would not need the entire building – it would be too large for us," said Mr Hehir.
"It is a very large building – but we would be able to fill much of it and then find other occupiers for the rest."
The move would allow the council's current home to be totally redeveloped.
Either the existing tower block could be converted into flats, or the site could be flattened and new homes built.
The option of moving to TXU's building could be more cost-effective for the council – experts estimate it could cost £3 million to bring the existing Civic Centre up to the standard needed for the 21st century.
Work on the TXU building ceased just before Christmas after its owner, the rump of TXU UK not sold to Powergen, called in the administrators.
Powergen has said it might be interested in taking part of the space there – but would not need the entire building.
It may, however, decide to concentrate its activities on the Wherstead Park site which it bought as part of the deal when it took over the TXU retail business in October.
The new hi-tech building is a cornerstone of the prestigious Ipswich Village development, and its development includes a new multi-storey car park for employees on the opposite side of Constantine Road.
Work on that, too, stopped before Christmas.
"The car park goes with the offices, they have to be sold together and cannot be separated," Mr Hehir said.
When permission was given for the car park, it was planned it would be used by TXU staff during the week, and be a public car park for football traffic on weekend matchdays.
Now the existing Ipswich Village surface car park is due to close and be redeveloped as a multi-storey car park with a hotel and shops.
Mr Hehir felt it was unlikely that the half-finished TXU car park could be used by the public while the new development was going ahead.