Town’s civic church creates a new community centre

Vicar Canon Charles Jenkin outside 19 Tower Street that has been brought to be converted in to music

Vicar Canon Charles Jenkin outside 19 Tower Street that has been brought to be converted in to music school/community centre/parish office.

Ipswich’s Civic Church has started work to convert the former county council offices in Tower Street into an important new community centre.

St Mary le Tower took over 17 Tower Street at the end of last year, and now work has started on restoring the historic building.

Until 2012 it was used by Suffolk County Council’s social services’ department before they moved to new offices at Landmark House on the edge of the town.

Originally the church approached the council about buying half of the building to develop its music school, have new parish offices, and a new parish hall.

However after lengthy discussions with the county council, it completed a deal to take over the entire building and to work with the authority and others to develop the rest as a community centre to be used by a number of community groups.

Work to restore and improve the building has now begun and the first groups are preparing to move in.

St Mary le Tower vicar Canon Charles Jenkin said the church had been hoping to develop its facilities in the town centre for some time – and while talks over the future of the building had taken some time to complete, by working with the county there should be real benefits for the community.

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Along with community groups, a cycle cafe is expected to open in the centre providing facilities for those who cycle into town. Canon Jenkin said: “We are pleased things are now starting to happen at the building and we are working with both the county and the borough councils on the project.”

The building itself dates from the Georgian period in the late 18th Century and is regarded as one of the most historic in the town. It has been listed as a building of historic importance since 1951.

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