On the move

IPSWICH Town Hall is to be closed all next year as it undergoes a £2.5 million rebuilding to become the new heart of the borough council.And the Age Concern tearoom currently housed in its lower ground floor is to move to a new home in the currently disused St Lawrence church.

IPSWICH Town Hall is to be closed all next year as it undergoes a £2.5 million rebuilding to become the new heart of the borough council.

And the Age Concern tearoom currently housed in its lower ground floor is to move to a new home in the currently disused St Lawrence church.

Work to prepare the church, which was last used for services in the early 1970s, should start during the summer.

A major development, costing more than £200,000, will be needed to install a new floor, heating system, kitchen, and toilets before it can become the new tearoom.


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But it is hoped this will be completed by November, enabling the tearoom to move there before Christmas.

"The major problem with the changes is that we have to get listed building permission from English Heritage, and that always takes time," said Ipswich council director Laurence Collins.

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"But we don't think there will be any objections, it is a very sympathetic use for an important historic building in the town centre."

The church is considerably larger than the existing Age Concern tearoom, and Mr Collins felt in future St Lawrence could be further developed to provide office space for the charity.

Once the tearoom has moved out, the Town Hall will be closed and largely rebuilt internally.

It will be closed for almost all of next year while new offices are built on the lower ground floor and new lifts are installed to other floors in the building.

During the closure, organisations which normally hire rooms in the town hall will be found alternative venues for events – such as the Robert Cross Hall in the neighbouring Corn Exchange.

But once the rebuilding work is complete at the end of 2005, the public rooms should reopen.

"We may have to take the Prince Albert Room for offices, we haven't finally decided on that yet," said Mr Collins.

The advance box office for the Regent and the Corn Exchange will move either to the tourist information centre in St Stephen's Church, to the Corn Exchange box office, or the Regent Theatre.

"That still has to be decided, we are considering the options," Mr Collins said.

The Town Hall will be closed from January next year.

The council is still looking to move most of its staff to new offices in the Ipswich Village area of the town.

Two possible sites have been identified, and negotiations are currently underway with landowners and tenants.

A final decision on the location of the new offices – which should also contain new offices for Ipswich PCT and a new police station – is due to be taken in July.

The new buildings have to be ready for occupation by the end of 2005 when Civic Centre will close to allow that area to be redeveloped.

It is likely to be end up as a mixed retail and residential area with a new Waitrose superstore at its heart.

nWhat do you think of the plans for the Town Hall and St Lawrence Church? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Opinion – see page 6

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