County Hall buildings sold

ALMOST a third of the County Hall buildings in Ipswich have been sold to pave the way for a new university in the town, The Evening Star can reveal today.

ALMOST a third of the County Hall buildings in Ipswich have been sold to pave the way for a new university in the town, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) has bought all the county council buildings on Rope Walk to the east of St Edmund House.

They are likely to be demolished to make way for the £110 million project to develop a new university in the town.

Neither EEDA nor the county council will discuss the exact amount they paid for the site, but the Star understands the is worth more than two million pounds.

EEDA helped finance the county's £18 million purchase of its new Endeavour House headquarters - and the deal for the Rope Walk land was part of this agreement.

The deal between EEDA and the county council was finally signed at the start of this month just as staff were moving offices.

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"This is just the start of a major development of the university, the college, and the entire education quarter of the town," said John Meginson of EEDA.

"It was a deal between the county council, the borough council - which still holds a covenant over the land from when it was sold to the county – and ourselves.

"This is a large piece of the jigsaw towards creating the education quarter - along with land near the waterfront which the borough swapped with the port a few years ago," he said.

The total cost of creating the education quarter has been put at £110 million - but Mr Meginson warned it would take several years to develop.

"This is a one to ten year project - Ipswich University will not be built in a day," he warned.

EEDA will take over responsibility for the county buildings as soon as the last council officers move out - but they are unlikely to feature in the long-term plans.

"They will be cleared to allow the site to be developed," Mr Meginson said.

"Although St Edmund House is not included in the deal, there is a clause that could see it become part of the new education quarter in the medium-term future, in about three years' time," he said.

The county council is continuing to occupy St Edmund House - which was opened in 1984 - for the foreseeable future, although it is not in their long-term plans.

Promoters of the new university have said it could make a good academic library.

The rest of the county hall estate, St Helen Court and St Andrew House are currently on the market.

St Helen Court is a listed building dating from the 19th century which cannot be altered radically - but St Andrew House is another building dating from the 1940s which will almost certainly be demolished to clear the ground for new development.

nWhat do you think of the university plans? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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