New home for council

FOR the last 35 years the Civic Centre has been a blot on the Ipswich skyline but that could be about to change. This week councillors are expected to give the go ahead for the new HQ of Ipswich Council in Russell Road – which should herald the demolition of the Civic Centre by the end of the decade.

FOR the last 35 years the Civic Centre has been a blot on the Ipswich skyline but that could be about to change.

This week councillors are expected to give the go ahead for the new HQ of Ipswich Council in Russell Road - which should herald the demolition of the Civic Centre by the end of the decade.

At a planning and development committee meeting on Wednesday councillors are expected to grant planning permission for the new six-storey building opposite Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House in Ipswich Village.

Council officials have already recommended the approval of the plans, which include a ground floor area set aside for shops and maybe even a pub.

A council report setting out the plans explains that the borough council will rent the building from developers North West Estates PLC.

The report said: "The application is primarily aimed at replacing the Civic Centre accommodation sometime in 2006. It is likely that the new building would house mostly offices."

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As many as 600 staff are expected to work in the new building, which will include 450 workstations, 50 shared workstations and a 95-space car park.

The design of the rectangular building includes a 3 metre wide 'silver collar', aluminium framed windows and a grid-style façade.

The report said: "The philosophy is subtlety and restraint, simple and refined details but not showy.

"The inspiration for the design is a college building in Cambridge which has been visited by council officers.

"This is a three storey hall of residence, the building will be in marked contrast to the high-tec approach at Endeavour House and the Crown Courts but that is no bad thing, it is a very varied area."

The new building is expected to cost the taxpayer about £1.65 million a year to run.

Extending the old civic centre's life by a further 15 years would have meant a £13.5million refurbishment plus annual running costs.

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