New community centre a step closer

A MEDIEVAL church in Ipswich town centre is a step closer to re-opening its doors today. Ipswich council chiefs have agreed to invite companies to tender for the £1.

A MEDIEVAL church in Ipswich town centre is a step closer to re-opening its doors today.

Ipswich council chiefs have agreed to invite companies to tender for the £1.1 million conversion of the redundant St Lawrence's Church into a community centre.

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: “The project, funded by Ipswich Borough Council (£400,000) and the department for communities and local government (£700,000), will breathe new life into the redundant church of St Lawrence's and will provide a meeting venue for Ipswich's diverse communities.

“Tenders will be sought during June and work is scheduled to get under way in early August and be completed by early 2008.”


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As previously reported in The Evening Star the council wants to turn the redundant church into a multi-use community centre, complete with catering facilities and toilets. The new-look St Lawrence's will include a drop-in centre, arts and exhibition space, performance area and meeting areas.

Councillor Judy Terry, the councillor with responsibility for arts, culture and leisure, said: “This is a big step forward for this landmark project and we look forward to meeting the needs of all kinds of community groups, including those representing older people.

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“There is scope here for everyone to join in and we invite them all to get involved and help us establish a successful independent management board.”

The management board will be chaired by Richard Catherall, of the Ipswich Council for Voluntary Services.

The conversion is a complicated scheme as the medieval church is a listed building and contains many historic features.

Among them are six bells believed to be the oldest in Ipswich and heard during the days of Cardinal Wolsey.

A new floor will be needed and catering and toilet facilities and bespoke furniture installed.

Councillor Terry said the council is grateful for the support shown by the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust.

Since 1979, the Trust has cared for five redundant medieval churches in the town. St Lawrence's became redundant in 1981.

What do you think of the plans for St Lawrence? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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