Restoration work starts at the Old Post Office on Ipswich Cornhill
- Credit: Archant
Work to restore the Old Post Office on Ipswich’s Cornhill has finally started – several months late but it should be completed by Christmas according to the borough council, which owns the building.
About £1m is expected to be spent on restoring the roof and making internal repairs to the Victorian interior of the building. The borough plans to start an active marketing campaign in a bid to find a new tenant for the site towards the end of the year as work nears completion.
Scaffolders moved in on Monday to start putting up a frame around the building. That will mean the historic building is likely to be hidden from view for most of 2020.
A council spokesman said the restoration programme was due to be completed by the middle of November when Christmas events are due to start on the Cornhill - however it is already six months behind schedule. It had been due to start in the autumn and be completed this summer.
The Old Post Office has been empty since 2015 when Lloyds Bank and The Wharf moved out. The council was keen to be able to carry out the restoration while it was empty to prevent disruption to tenants.
As part of the repairs to the roof a dormer window that was a later edition is to be removed to reduce the threat of leaks.
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Once the restoration is complete there will have to be more work inside the building once it is let to a new tenant - a lift will have to be installed because the main entrance is up a number of steps that do not comply with modern disability legislation.
Ipswich council portfolio holder for the town centre Sarah Barber was delighted that work had finally started: 'This is a very important building for the town and particularly for the Cornhill.
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'We are very keen to get someone in as a tenant in the building and it would be wonderful to see it back in use. Making sure the fabric of the building is in good condition is very important to that.'
Over the last few years there has been speculation that it could be turned into a restaurant or even have a new community use - but the access issue has proved difficult to overcome. But once the work is completed it should be easier to find a tenant prepared to make the long-term commitment needed to finance changes needed to the access.