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Delays to Ipswich The Hold project

PUBLISHED: 17:13 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:14 23 March 2020

The Hold is very near completeion  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Hold is very near completeion Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Completion work for the new archive office in Ipswich has been pushed back to May after delays at the start of the year – and coronavirus means the formal opening could be much later.

Archive rooms at The Hold during construction in August 2019. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNArchive rooms at The Hold during construction in August 2019. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The £20million construction had been due to open by Easter, but a Suffolk County Council report said that the wet weather either side of Christmas coupled with issues connecting to the power grid meant this was now going to be the first week of May for completion.

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That means work will finish just days before the May 8 VE Day commemoration exhibition to open the new facility, based opposite the University of Suffolk’s Waterfront building, but the COVID-19 pandemic has cast doubt on that opening plan and forthcoming events.

Councillor Paul West, cabinet member for Ipswich and heritage at the county council, said: “Some delays were experienced on The Hold site at the start of the year, but these have now been resolved and work has since progressed well.

“Any resulting additional costs are manageable within the project contingency budget.

County council cabinet member for Ipswich, Paul West described The Hold as a 'flagship' facility. Picture: RACHEL EDGECounty council cabinet member for Ipswich, Paul West described The Hold as a 'flagship' facility. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

“Despite the coronavirus outbreak, work is currently continuing as normal on site, we continue to adhere to national guidance relating to COVID-19 and we are working to a completion date of the start of May.

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“This will be kept under review as the situation develops.

“We have closed all our Suffolk Archives branches to the public, but preparations to move to The Hold are continuing where safe to do so.

“Although an opening date is currently uncertain, we are continuing to plan for the opening, including celebration events, installations and exhibitions.”

The Hold during development in August 2019. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Hold during development in August 2019. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Hold will effectively replace the Ipswich branch of Suffolk Record Office which is currently in Gatacre Road.

It will feature archive rooms which can be atmosphere controlled to keep old and valuable records safe.

Centres in Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft will still remain, although some of the more fragile documents from Lowestoft will move to Ipswich where they can be stored safely – a move which has attracted some ire from campaigners in the town who want records to remain accessible.

Mr West added: “The Hold project will enable existing and new audiences – wherever they are – to connect, explore and discover 900 years of archival material and Suffolk’s treasured stories. The project has been made possible through the support of the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Campaigners from the Save Our Record Office (Soro) Group, staging a protest by Suffolk County Council's Marquee. Photo: Matthew NixonCampaigners from the Save Our Record Office (Soro) Group, staging a protest by Suffolk County Council's Marquee. Photo: Matthew Nixon

“On this site, the project will create a new, flagship heritage facility to protect and promote the county’s archives and provide state of the art learning and research facilities, an exhibition space, café and auditorium. Digital programmes will also reach out to diverse communities in Ipswich, the county, and the nation.”

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