Derelict Waterfront building could be saved for £35k - but council is paying £423k, data shows
PUBLISHED: 13:01 14 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:01 14 January 2020
Ipswich Borough Council's executive was presented with four options for the future of 4 College Street at its meeting in October - ranging from spending £423,000 for repairs to doing nothing.
The committee opted to spend the full amount which would see it removed from the 'at risk' register as well as additional work such as new heating, better access and wiring for internet.
But Ian Fisher, leader of the opposition Conservative group called in the decision for review amid fears that the committee did not have the correct information to adequately judge all of the options.
Finance figures, a quantity surveyor report and condition report were all collated for the decision review, held on Monday night, with data revealing that urgent works to remove it from the 'at risk' register could be completed for £35,000.
According to Labour council leader David Ellesmere, the additional work being carried out in the more expensive option will be work needed regardless of its future use, which has yet to be decided.
Mr Fisher said he recognised the historic value of the Grade II Listed building, and said there was no doubt of work needing to be completed to remove it from the register but wanted to wait for the masterplan for the whole of the Waterfront gateway - which includes the old Burton's and Paul's sites - is completed.
He said: "None of the other options were given the correct consideration.
"The information provided to the committee did not allow it to make an informed decision.
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"At no point is it mentioned [in the original report presented to executive] that only £35,000 is needed to get the building off the 'at risk' register.
"For me, this is one of the most vital pieces of information."
But Mr Ellesmere dubbed the call-in a "waste of everybody's time" and said it had delayed work going ahead.
He said the masterplan would be some time away from being completed and the additional works being carried out would be needed whether it was used as an office in the short term or a visitor centre in the future. He added: "The sooner we get the building occupied the better.
"It's going to be some time before the whole area is developed.
"I believe it is clear the decision taken by executive gave the other options fair consideration and was based on sound judgement."
The council's scrutiny committee upheld the original decision, with council chiefs understood to be keen for work to go ahead as soon as possible to reduce further risk to the site.
The property has been unoccupied for 39 years and on the 'at risk' register for 28 years.
The authority bought the building in 2016 as part of plans to regenerate the whole of the Waterfront gateway site.