Town landmark coming down

AT LONG last, one of Ipswich's biggest eyesores is being torn down.Demolition work to knock down the exterior wall of the Civic Centre has now begun, paving the way for a multi-million pound development to be constructed in its place.

AT LONG last, one of Ipswich's biggest eyesores is being torn down.

Demolition work to knock down the exterior wall of the Civic Centre has now begun, paving the way for a multi-million pound development to be constructed in its place.

The imposing tower block, which has dominated the town's skyline since it was built in 1970, has been vacant since council staff moved to Grafton House in Russell Road in 2006.

Now the next exciting stage is underway as the bulldozers and diggers have moved in and started to knock through windows and walls.

Developers Turnstone bought the land from Ipswich Borough Council for more than £8million and want to build a huge new retail centre.

Plans for the site are still being finalised but Turnstone has been in talks with supermarkets, with rumours that Waitrose, Sainsbury and Tesco are interested in taking up a major unit. A public consultation is due to begin in early July.

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The site could also include restaurants, bars and other leisure facilities. Turnstone said it hoped a shopping complex could be built in 2009 and 2010.

The demolition is being carried out by Woodbridge-based firm, CDC Demolition, who officially began the work around the back and the inside of the building in early May. It is expected to take 30 weeks in total.

James Hehir, chief executive of the Ipswich Borough Council, often described his tenth floor office as having the best view in Ipswich, claiming “I can see the whole town except the Civic Centre”.

For more than 30 years staff worked in the centre, which was designed to allow them to work without disturbance. However a detailed survey was undertaken and in 2004 the results revealed that it would cost the £13million to keep it open for just another 15 years.

Nick Scott, director of Turnstone Estates said: “Reaching this next stage in the demolition process of the former Civic Centre is very exciting. It demonstrates visible commitment to the regeneration of the redundant buildings, and enables us to progress our ideas for the Westgate Centre, a retail focused scheme.

“We will be consulting with the public on our plans for the site in early July, ahead of submitting a planning application later in the summer.”

Are you glad to see the civic centre being knocked down? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The Civic Centre officially opened to the public in 1970 but had been proposed 20 years earlier

Work on the building started in 1966

The Civic Centre had 160 rooms. Each department had its own office and managers had their individual offices

Many old terraced houses were demolished at the time to make way for the new buildings.

The first contract to be awarded in the Civic Centre development was for the underground spiral car park. It cost £362,000.

At its busiest time more than 700 staff were based there.

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