Did you go to Hollywoods or Kartouche?
- Credit: RACHEL EDGE
A sure-fire way to place the age of someone in Ipswich is how they refer to the former nightclub on Princes Street, writes Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere.
Did you used to go to Hollywoods and Trader Jacks? Or was it Kartouche, Zest or the Malthouse? he asks in his latest column.
Now we have to get used to calling it another name - The Maltings - as it begins a new life as the latest quality office development in Ipswich.
The developers, Pertwee Estates, have done an amazing job of converting the building into offices.
Gone is the dark, slightly claustrophobic nightclub. Now there is light, airy and open office space. The entrance has been enhanced with a new atrium. Industrial equipment from the building's past has been retained.
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Given the building's great location and unique character there should be lots of interest from potential occupiers.
I am proud of the role Ipswich Borough Council played in bringing this historic Grade II Listed building back into use.
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The council purchased The Maltings back in 2015 because we wanted to ensure this 200-year-old building was preserved. When we took ownership, it was in a bad state of repair with multiple roof leaks and damp areas so we immediately carried out substantial works to make the building weather-proof.
This made it easier to attract a developer to take on the renovation work.
It was still a pretty daunting task though, given the complexities around the development of old listed buildings. Here, the council's planning department deserves a special mention. They were described by the developer Mark Pertwee as "brilliant" for their support and pragmatism in helping bring the project to fruition.
Council planners are often regarded as putting a brake on development. That may be the case in other areas, but not in Ipswich, where we won similar praise from Ken Ford, the developer who transformed the Buttermarket.
He said that he completed the entire project in less time than it would have taken to get planning permission from some councils!
We intend to use this same mix of intervention and pragmatism to bring other Ipswich buildings back into use where the private sector is not able to do so on its own.