Multi-million pound development hopes as Ipswich Borough Council sells former Fisons HQ in Princes Street

An architect's impression of the new-look offices in Princes Street.

An architect's impression of the new-look offices in Princes Street. - Credit: Archant

One of the best-known office blocks in Ipswich could have a new lease of life after its freehold was bought by a major property developer.

The former Fisons headquarters building in Princes Street has been empty for many years – and will now be updated to provide up-to-date office accommodation.

The freehold of the building is expected to be sold by the borough council to developer Malcolm Hobbs, who runs the Earls Colne Business Park in Essex.

He said: “We hope to start work updating the building in February next year, if planning goes according to plan, which would allow us to complete it by November – 12 months’ time.”

No tenants were yet lined up for the building, but Mr Hobbs is confident that businesses will be keen to snap up modern office space between the railway station and the town centre.

There is a total of 43,000 square feet of space, and it could be let on a floor-by-floor basis or as a whole – an extra floor will be built on the existing 1960s building and it also includes 65 parking spaces.

Mr Hobbs said it was vital for his company to be able to buy the freehold of the site to give it the security it needed to carry out the work.

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The whole refurbishment of the office block is expected to cost between £8 and £9 million.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said the sale should be another major step towards the establishment of an important business district in Princes Street.

And the council would benefit from a substantial capital receipt from the developers.

He said: “We have already seen keen interest in other properties along Princes Street with Birketts hoping to move just a few yards along from this building and other companies also looking for high quality office accommodation.”

The council believed that the relative proximity of the building to the railway station and major roads to and from the town centre would make it popular.

The building itself was designed for Fisons by renowned local architect Birkin Haward – but it was never completed. The rear block of office space was never built.

The company’s administration was based in Ipswich until it was taken over in 1995.

After then the head office – on land owned by the borough council – became vacant, and has been waiting for redevelopment for many years.

The sale of the freehold of the site is to be discussed by Ipswich Council next week – but it would be a major surprise if there were objections.