Urgent repair plans lodged for historic Grade II Listed Ipswich County Hall
PUBLISHED: 11:25 22 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:25 22 October 2019
Developers behind plans to revamp the former County Hall into flats have submitted additional plans for urgent repair work on the ailing historic structure.
The Grade II Listed building in St Helen's Street, Ipswich, has lain derelict for 15 years, and been allowed to fall into disrepair.
Developers Harris and Wilton lodged plans in December to convert the historic building into 12 flats of one, two and three bedrooms, with proposals for a new accommodation block behind for a further 28 flats.
According to agents Thurlow Architects, amended proposals with additional information is due to be submitted next month but an additional application for listed building consent was needed for immediate repair and maintenance work, particularly around the internal panelling and stairs.
Lionel Thurlow, architect, said: "We have got to make some amendments to beat the dry rot but the latest application is really to try and deal directly with some urgent works that need doing as well.
"We are pro-actively trying to keep the water out and then we can deal with the principal areas.
"It's a unique building in Ipswich - there isn't another building like it visually in the town.
"But it's not just that it's the historic relationship of the building as a gallows, prison and its courtroom [which triggered the 1936 Abdication Crisis] - it's got that historical context and it's about preserving that."
The application for flats was submitted in December last year, but the revised application set for next month is understood to contain amendments, solutions to issues raised by the council's planning department and more details requested by various community groups.
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The iconic structure was built in 1836 as a prison and court of law, before extensions in 1906 allowed it to be used as council headquarters.
It has been vacant since 2004, when Suffolk County Council moved to Endeavour House.
Images published in 2012 revealed the dire state of disrepair it had fallen in to, with fireplaces torn out, wooden panelling stripped and evidence of lead theft and drug use.
A year earlier, it had been put on the register of buildings deemed to be 'at risk'.
The 1936 Abdication Crisis and why County Hall was involved
In 1936, Ipswich's County Hall became the centre of international attention when its court hosted the divorce proceedings of Wallis Simpson.
Mrs Simpson met Edward, Prince of Wales in 1931 while still married to her second husband, Ernest Simpson - a shipping executive and former Coldstream Guards officer.
Having fallen for the royal Prince, and allegedly becoming his mistress, the County Hall was where she had her divorce bid granted, amid claims that Mr Simpson had committed adultery, which paved the way for her to marry King Edward VIII.
It sparked the 1936 Abdication Crisis, where King Edward's marriage to a woman with two living ex husbands was deemed controversial. The King abdicated in order to marry Mrs Simpson, leading to his brother George taking up the throne as King George VI.
During the weeks leading up to the hearing, Mrs Simpson lived in Felixstowe.