Speculation over town's ex-headquarters

SPECULATION is mounting today over the future of Ipswich's former Civic Centre headquarters.After the borough council moved to new premises in Ipswich village near the town's crown court, its former building is now standing empty.

CIVIC Centre will almost certainly be demolished over the next two years, experts emphasised today.

Since the borough moved out of its town centre building at the start of this month there has been speculation that it could be converted into flats and given a makeover as a cheaper alternative to demolition and redeveloping the site.

However, while officers at Ipswich council have not ruled out that option, they are doubtful whether the figures would add up.

The borough abandoned the 1970-built headquarters because surveyors estimated it would cost £13 million to extend its life by a further 15 years.

“Anything is possible,” a senior council source said. “But the cost of refurbishing would be so great and its presence on that part of the site would be such an obstacle for the overall redevelopment that no one here thinks that is at all likely.”

He added: “Certainly nothing has been ruled out, but it does look as if it would be cheaper to pull the whole thing down and start again - and we're not sure a tower block is the best idea in that location.”

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Civic Centre was never seen as a beautiful building, and many people are already looking forward to the day when it is demolished.

Supermarket giant Waitrose is understood to want to build a new store on the site, and other retailers are also understood to be keen to move to the west side of the town centre.

The council is keen to see some residential development on the site as well, although the scope for that could be limited because the police station and former crown court is not going to be redeveloped for at least five years.

Negotiations with developers are expected to continue over the next few weeks and a deal for the site should be concluded early next year.

WEBLINK: www.ipswich.gov.uk

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