Fears Ipswich's best-known landmarks are at risk

John Norman

John Norman in front of the mosaic at the former Co-op department store. - Credit: Paul Geater

Some of Ipswich's best-known landmarks are at risk following the borough's decision to allow the demolition of the former Co-op to make way for a new primary school, according to the town's heritage watchdog.

The Ipswich Society fears that the decision to allow the demolition of the former Co-op department store in Carr Street to allow a new primary school to be built could set a precedent with other historic buildings.

And they fear that without a new use some of the town's best-known buildings could deteriorate over the next few years.

The Co-op store was locally listed for its architecture - and the decision to allow its demolition was covered in the "Nooks and Corners" column of Private Eye magazine which highlights the plight of endangered heritage buildings across the country.

Ipswich Society Chair John Norman said the loss of the building as a whole and the 1960s mosaic over the footpath leading to Carr Street would be bad for the town.

"We were left wondering what was the point in any building having a local listing if the council was just going to ignore that and allow its demolition anyway."

A smaller print image of the mosaic would be put on display at the school - but he said it was no substitute for the real thing.

Mr Norman said the society was also disappointed by the internal changes at the new Tesco store in the former Croydon's jewellers in Tavern Street: "We were disappointed to see the staircase removed as it was.

Tesco in Carr Street

Externally there has not been a great change to the Tesco store in Tavern Street - but the staircase inside has been removed. - Credit: Paul Geater

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"It was hoped it could be saved, but one of our members said he saw it in a skip as the shop was being fitted out."

Croydon's was only built in 1929 and was not listed so there was little that could be done to prevent the removal of the staircase/

"I'm afraid that's a lost cause." said Mr Norman.

And he also feared for the future of the Great White Horse Hotel - where the contrasting demands of fire safety rules and heritage concerns came into conflict.

Great White Horse Hotel

The historic Great White Horse Hotel is now largely empty - and it is difficult to see how it could be brought back into use. - Credit: Paul Geater

He said: "I don't think it could ever be a hotel again - there are single steps in the corridor and that would be dangerous in the dark and difficult for people in wheelchairs.

"It will need someone with a lot of money and a really exciting plan to do anything with it - otherwise it will just stand empty for years."