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Ipswich Art Gallery's roof to be refurbished this summer ahead of first exhibition of the year

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Work to repair and replace the roof of an Ipswich tourist spot will finally get underway this summer.

Ipswich Borough Council’s executive last week authorised the appointment of a main contractor for work on the roof of Ipswich Art Gallery.

When plans were first approved at the end of 2019, it was expected that a two-week closure would take place in summer 2020. The authority has now confirmed that work will take place this summer instead.

Ipswich Art Gallery. Picture: Google Maps
Ipswich Art Gallery. Picture: Google Maps

It is understood preparations took longer in getting bids from contractors with the right level of experience, because access to the roof is tricky. Major capital schemes operations manager Mark Hunter said: “This coming summer is the earliest opportunity we could do it.”

Councillor Carole Jones, Labour portfolio holder for planning and museums, said: “This means that the works can be completed over the summer and the exhibition programme had already been cleared specifically for this purpose.

“These works mean the roof should be in good condition for the next 20 years at least, and that includes an improved environmental performance through higher quality insulation.

“This is a very welcome investment in what has become an increasingly important building for exhibitions and events in our calendar.”

It is understood the roof will also be assessed for any possibility of solar panels as part of carbon reduction measures.

“As a general point, in refurbishing our buildings, we are always looking of ways in which we can improve the energy performance the environmental performance of our buildings,” Ms Jones added.

Conservative group leader Ian Fisher echoed the importance of the building in the town, but added: “We have just had a pandemic where lots of places have been forced to close for a year, and it is really disappointing to see that we have actually cancelled events.

"This has been in the capital plan for quite some time, could we have not done this when it was placed under forced closure?”

The building was constructed as an art school in 1930, with the council acquiring the structure in 2011. Since then, minor maintenance works have been carried out, but the council’s report said the existing roof has exhausted its 20-year lifespan.

The gallery is set to open again at the end of the summer in time for its first exhibition of the year.

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