Will County Hall be transformed into a new register office and wedding hall for Ipswich?

A computer-generated image of the proposed wedding hall.

A computer-generated image of the proposed wedding hall. - Credit: cont

A year after proposals to turn part of Suffolk’s former County Hall into a new Register Office for Ipswich were unveiled, talks are still continuing about the scheme.

The owner of the building, west Suffolk-based M&D Developments, last year obtained planning permission to turn the former council chamber and offices underneath it into a Register Office and Wedding Hall.

At the same time it obtained permission to convert some of the nearby former offices into 16 flats – and it has been concentrating on that project for the last year.

However M&D boss David Harris said the Register Office proposal was still being actively developed, and his company was in regular contact with the county council about it.

He said: “We have had meetings with their estates department and there are more planned.

“We have been concentrating on the St Andrews House (flats) project over the last year but that is now all coming together and we will be able to spend more time on working on the Register Office.”

A spokesman from the county council confirmed that an officer from its property department had been in talks with the developers and that more discussions were due in future weeks.

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Deputy leader of Suffolk County Council Christopher Hudson, who has special responsibility for Ipswich on the authority’s cabinet, said he would be following developments closely and would try to ensure the project moved ahead as smoothly as possible.

He said: “County Hall is a very important building for Ipswich and it has been allowed to deteriorate over the last decade.

“This would be a very appropriate and welcome new use for it, and I shall be speaking to officers to ensure I know what is happening and when things will really be taking shape.”

Suffolk County Council moved out of County Hall and into Endeavour House in 2003. The Victorian County Hall – where Mrs Simpson gained her divorce in 1936 – was sold and in recent years there has been increasing concern about the state of the listed building.

Two years ago photographs emerged showing the poor state of the inside of the building – and there were also signs that people had broken in and were sleeping rough there.

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