Work to save historic building on Ipswich Waterfront given approval to begin
Work to save an historic merchant house on Ipswich Waterfront can begin after securing planning permission for work to take it off the ‘at risk’ register.
The Grade II Listed house known as 4 College Street dates back to the 1560s and was bought by Ipswich Borough Council in 2016 after fears were raised about its condition.
The authority submitted plans earlier this year to carry out work that would prevent any further decay, having been in a state of disrepair since at least 1992 when a fire broke out there.
The council’s planning committee gave approval at its meeting on Wednesday for the work, which will also see the wall come down around the Waterfront gateway of the former St Peter’s Warehouse to open up views of the docks.
Councillor Colin Kreidewolf said: “I am very pleased to see this proposal come forward.
“It’s a clear example that protecting the heritage assets of Ipswich is not a cheap operation.
“It’s an important heritage asset and this investment, as well as a similar investment in the old post office, shows the commitment of the council to protecting heritage assets.”
The house has been the subject of a fierce political debate at the authority over how much should be spent on it.
The council’s Labour administration has agreed to pump £423,000 into carrying out the repairs and making it fit for occupation in order that it can bring in some rental income.
However, the council’s Conservative group said it wanted the minimal £35,000 spent on removing it from the ‘at risk’ register until the full masterplan for the area had been completed, in order that future work could be tailored to its future long term use.
Councillor Liz Harsant said she “still believed that would be the right way to go”.
She said: “For £40,000 rather than £423,000 we could bring it back to come off the ‘at risk’ register,” and added: “I shan’t be voting for spending that kind of money until we see the masterplan.”
The former St Peter’s Warehouse adjacent to the merchant house was destroyed in a ferocious blaze in 2000, with those perimeter walls the only remaining sign of that former building.
Those walls will be replaced by railings under the plans.
It is not yet clear when work will begin, but is likely to be soon in order to begin making the house secure before the winter.
The council’s planning committee also opted to extend planning permission for the temporary car park on the former St Peter’s Warehouse land adjacent to continue for another two years.
The land, which can accommodate 114 cars, is owned by the council and part of regeneration plans being drawn up for the area, but those plans are not yet ready.
The car park means the land can have a use which helps bring in an income and be useful to Waterfront visitors until those plans are ready.
However, fears were raised that as it had been a temporary car park since 2009 there was the possibility that the land could remain without a long term use for a long period of time.
The conditions determine that the car park must remain a short-stay car park of no more than five hours.
The land is allocated for development as part of the wider Waterfront opportunity area alongside the St Paul’s silo and Burton’s buildings.