Revealed - What happens now with former Rose and Crown pub on brink of collapse
PUBLISHED: 19:00 07 August 2019
Council chiefs have agreed to pursue the purchase of a former town pub that was brought to the verge of collapse from poor building work.
The former Rose and Crown pub on the corner of Norwich Road and Bramford Road in Ipswich was being redeveloped as a Kurdish centre when work had to be halted in November 2017.
Ipswich Borough Council had to step in because rebuilding work had resulted in it becoming "structurally unsafe" according to health and safety officers, forcing the closure of Bramford Road for two months.
After more than a year remaining a derelict eyesore in the town, Ipswich Borough Council's executive on Tuesday agreed to pursue work to buy the property, and said it would attempt a compulsory purchase if owners were not willing to work with the council on a sale.
Labour council leader David Ellesmere said that council officers had worked extensively on making the site safe.
He added: "It's since come to the considered view of the council that the best way, and quickest way, to come to a permanent solution to this building is for the council to purchase it. We will make it safe and redevelop it in due course.
"The easiest way is a voluntary purchase by the current owners, however up to now they have not proven willing to do that and therefore we should start to consider going down the compulsory purchase route."
It is understood the damage is so extensive that the building is likely to have to come down, with housing most likely to be developed there.
Labour councillor Carole Jones, planning portfolio holder, said having an eyesore at the junction of two key roads was not good for the town, and damaged the economic welfare of Norwich Road businesses.
The council had to erect scaffolding to keep the building upright, which according to the report was needed to prevent Bramford Road from being closed again.
To date, the council has recovered £14,715.90 from the owners for work it completed, with a further £2,210 owed.
It is understood the owners will be given up to 30 days to negotiate on or accept the council's written offer, before compulsory purchase powers are then used.
'I am appalled by the amount of money they are asking for'
But Ian Fisher, Conservative group leader at the council said he was concerned that the council would be paying over the odds for the property, based on figures that have been deemed commercially sensitive and not been made public.
He said: "This is a terrible situation and one that we must do something about but it sticks in the throat that the organisation that caused traffic misery in Ipswich for months last year may benefit financially from the transaction.
"I am appalled at the amount of money they are asking for which is way over and above the current market value.
"We object to this deal being done behind closed doors - it is the taxpayer who is funding this and we should ensure that as part of the deal we pay a reasonable amount but no more, and we must ensure that any money owed to IBC is deducted from the final payment."
The Rose and Crown timeline:
17th Century: First record of a pub at the junction of Bramford Road and Norwich Road
Early 20th Century: Rose and Crown pub built on the site. Over the years it developed a reputation as a home of folk music
2011: Last orders called at the Rose and Crown. It was bought by a group seeking to open a Kurdish Community Centre
2013: Planning permission granted for the pub to become a community centre
2015: Members of the community started using the old pub
Early 2017: Work to convert the building into a functioning community centre started
November 2017: Concern about the way the work was being carried out prompted an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive which said it was in imminent danger of collapse. Work stopped immediately and Bramford Road closed to traffic
January 2018: Bramford Road reopened after Ipswich Borough Council demolished most of the building and made what was left safe. Negotiations continued with its owners
August 2019: Ipswich Borough Council set to start compulsory purchase proceedings