Historic church gets lifeline

A REDUNDANT medieval church is set to be transformed into a multi-use community centre following a £1.1million cash injection.The future for historic St Lawrence's Church in Ipswich town centre has at last been secured after 26 years thanks to a government grant of £700,000, together with funding from Ipswich Borough Council of £400,000.

A REDUNDANT medieval church is set to be transformed into a multi-use community centre following a £1.1million cash injection.

The future for historic St Lawrence's Church in Ipswich town centre has at last been secured after 26 years thanks to a government grant of £700,000, together with funding from Ipswich Borough Council of £400,000.

The new-look church in Dial Lane, which has been redundant since 1981, will include a drop-in centre, arts and exhibition space, performance area and meeting areas, complete with catering facilities and toilets.

The grade two listed building, constructed in the 14th century, was previously used as a rehearsal space and for a number of other small initiatives, however it was forced to close after a problem with dry rot led to costly repairs that could not be met.

This is the first grant the council has received from the department for communities and local government after it was awarded Growth Point status last year as part of the Haven Gateway region.

New head of cultural and leisure services, Billy Brennan, said: "This is a very exciting project and we are grateful to the government for its support. The funding go-ahead is excellent news and we are all looking forward to providing a dynamic centre in this magnificent building and hope all sections of the community will use it.

Most Read

“The change in Ipswich signals a need for a community facility in the heart of the town centre.”

The new centre will be run by a management board, chaired by the Ipswich Council for Voluntary Services.

Its chief executive Richard Catherall said: “There are lots of new communities coming into the town and lots of established ones already here and the way forward has got to be people building bridges between each other.

“Because the church has been out of use for so long, it is about bringing it back into use and allowing its key users to think about how they can get involved and make best use of the space.”

The conversion is complex as St Lawrence's is a listed building and a new floor will be needed along with the refurbishment of the interior fabric.

Building work is expected to begin within the next few weeks and should be completed by the end of the year.

What do you think about the new plans for the church? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 IAN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter