Million pound deal secures county hall

HISTORIC County Hall has been sold to developers in a multi-million pound deal-the Evening Star can today reveal. Built in 1837 the former Ipswich headquarters of Suffolk County Council will be turned into residential accommodation for older people, as long as planning permission is given.

HISTORIC County Hall has been sold to developers in a multi-million pound deal-the Evening Star can today reveal.

Built in 1837 the former Ipswich headquarters of Suffolk County Council will be turned into residential accommodation for older people, as long as planning permission is given.

Officers and councillors at Endeavour House were tight-lipped about the value of the deal but the Evening Star understands the deal, with developers Raven Audley Court, could be worth in the region of £5million.

Under the plans St Helen Court, along with St Andrew House office blocks, which flank it along Grimwade Street and behind the historic frontage, are set to be converted into housing.

The 2.5 acre site went on the market earlier this year after the council moved to its current home Endeavour House, in Russell Road, which it bought last year for a reported £20 million.

Councillor Ray Novak, portfolio holder for resources said : "This bid is far and away the best for the county council and the council tax payer in terms of value for money.

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"We always said that getting the best value we possibly could from this site was top of the list of our priorities. The bid we have accepted meets this criterion and will ensure that this historic part of Ipswich is given a new lease of life.

"Because the developers intend to turn the site into extra-care housing, we feel sure the planned development will enhance the area."

Cllr Novak said the deal secured the future of the site.

He said: "This is another piece in the property jigsaw in this part of Ipswich, along with the sale of land East of Grimwade Street to the East of England Development Agency for the University Campus Suffolk project.

"I look forward to seeing county hall enjoying a new lease of life in the longer term as we continue to deliver on our promises and our priorities."

The chief executive of Raven Audley Court Nick Sanderson said the company was delighted their bid had been accepted.

He said: "We're looking forward to taking this forward through the planning process and to a successful conclusion.

"The extra care housing we are proposing will give older people a home for life. People can move there through choice, and as they need more help later on it can be provided for them there, which removes the need to go into care.

"We know there is considerable demand for this sort of accommodation and the location, which its closeness to the town centre and all its amenities is ideal. All too often older people are pushed to the margins of towns and our scheme enables them to be at the heart of the community."

The historic building was home to the county council for thirty years and was originally home to county and civil courts.

Public hangings used to take place on the site, and indeed the last public hanging to be carried out in Britain happened there in 1863.

It was formerly a prison and court, and achieved international notoriety in 1936 as the building where Wallace Simpson, mistress of King Edward VIII, was granted a divorce from her Canadian husband.

What do you think of the plan? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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