Plans to transform The Great White Horse Hotel usher new era for iconic Ipswich building

The Great White Horse Hotel, Ipswich. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

The Great White Horse Hotel, Ipswich. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Plans to revamp one of Ipswich’s most well known and historic buildings are set to be given the green light by the borough council.

The Great White Horse Hotel, Ipswich. Picture LUCY TAYLOR

The Great White Horse Hotel, Ipswich. Picture LUCY TAYLOR

The unused upper floors of the Great White Horse Hotel, a grade II listed building at the heart of the town’s high street, could be transformed into a range of new start-up business units, the rear courtyard turned into residential flats while the ground floor Starbucks cafe extended to include the first floor.

Parts of the building, on Tavern Street, date back to the 16th century although many of the external walls are late Georgian or were rebuilt in the early 1800s.

The iconic hotel is even described in Charles Dicken’s classic the Pickwick Papers after the author stayed there in 1835.

Ipswich Borough council’s planning committee is being advised to give the plans the go ahead when they are discussed on Wednesday following an eight-week consultation.

The upper floors of the building, which have been vacant since the hotel closed in 2008, are to be turned into individual start up suites for new businesses while a four-storey courtroom block to the rear of the building, a 20th century addition to the hotel, will be converted into six self-contained, one-bedroom flats.

The first floor of the building will become an extension of the current ground floor Starbucks cafe and restaurant with a new staircase constructed to lead onto the hotel’s ‘Trafalgar Room’.

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Ward councillor John Cook said the plans were great news for the town would safeguard the future of the building.

“I am really positive about this,” he said.

“I think it is really good news.

“It is a very important building, I think most people know its links with Charles Dickens and the Pickwick Papers.

“Since the hotel closed about nine years ago the upper rooms have not been in use and when you have part of a big building like that not being used they tend to fall into disrepair.

“The small business start up units is good news generally for the town centre because people who take up units will be using he town’s amenities.

“That can only be good.

“Buildings like this need to be fully utilised so to get it back into use is fantastic.

“These plans will hopefully see the building safeguarded and preserved for the future.”