Joy as church work gets go-ahead

AN AMBITIOUS bid to convert one of Ipswich's most historic churches into a 200-seat concert venue has been rubber stamped, paving the way for work to begin next month.

AN AMBITIOUS bid to convert one of Ipswich's most historic churches into a 200-seat concert venue has been rubber stamped, paving the way for work to begin next month.

St Peter's Church, in College Street, which is unused and largely closed to the public, now faces a bright and sustainable future after an agreement to adapt the building was reached.

Ipswich Hospital Band, which is behind the project, has signed contracts with the major fund provider, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and with landlord The Ipswich Historic Churches Trust.

Builders are expected on site in April with a view to the project being completed and St Peter's Church reopening as a music, performing arts and heritage centre in the spring of 2008.

HLF has stumped up £772,000 of the £900,000 required, with Ipswich Borough Council contributing £110,000 and the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust £10,000.

The balance is being raised by the band, £4,500 of which was collected at band carol events before Christmas.

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Ipswich Hospital Band will be based at the church and will oversee the running of the venue.

The band's assistant musical director, Bernard Westren, said: “With the various developments going on at the Waterfront, the church is a great location for a concert venue.”

The work will include providing modern toilets, installing new heating and lighting, building a tiered stage and installing a sound system to accommodate a variety of performances.

Essential conservation work to the fabric of the building will also take place.

Displays telling the story of the church's history, which dates back to 1130, and giving details of the project will also be installed.

What do you think about the church's refurbishment? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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