New council flats on the way with conversion of Ipswich BT offices
PUBLISHED: 05:30 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 20:07 23 January 2020
Ipswich council's property company is to convert the former BT offices in Bibb way in the town into nearly 80 new affordable flats in a £10.5m deal.
Ipswich Borough Assets (IBA) is to spend millions converting the five-storey office block into up to 79 flats and maisonettes - including seven on the ground and first floor especially equipped for people with disabilities - after buying the building for £4.1m.
Because the work involves converting the offices into residential accommodation it does not need planning permission, and the council will take over all the flats and offer them to people on the housing waiting list.
As well as the maisonettes for people with disabilities there will be a mixture of studio, one-bedroomed, two-bedroomed and three-bedroomed flats.
IBA chair Colin Kreidewolf said this work was just the start of the redevelopment of the Bibb Way site. There is also a former data storage office there which will either be converted into more homes or demolished and the site redeveloped.
He said: "There is also a 1.5 acre car park. We need some parking for the flats but not as much as that. Altogether the site is 4.3 acres and we are still considering what should happen to the rest of it."
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Part will be landscaped - but overall IBA believes that up to 136 homes in total could be developed on the site.
Because it is a conversion of offices which does not require planning permission, IBA does not have to worry about government rules which insist on mixed-tenure developments so the office conversion can all be handed over to the borough.
Mr Kreidewolf said: "We could have got more flats into that space, but we wanted to do it The Ipswich Way and provide really good quality homes for people and families."
Conversion work should start soon, and Mr Kreidewolf hoped most would be occupied by autumn 2021. He said there should be a quick decision on what happens to the rest of the site so if the data centre was going to be demolished, it would come down before the first flats were occupied.
The sale of the site was agreed by Savills on behalf of client Telereal Trillium. Thomas Higgins, who led the deal for Savills, said: "Given the scale of the scheme we approached national and regional developers and there was sizeable interest from both.
"There is ever growing demand for development land in and around Ipswich. Values are strong for sites that have capacity for more than 100 new homes, are well-located and which have good access to infrastructure and amenities such as the A12 corridor and rail connectivity to London."
Murray Burdis, Senior Strategy Manager at Telereal Trillium, added: "This is an important, strategic site that acts as a gateway to Ipswich town centre with the potential to deliver significant community benefit. We are pleased to have agreed this sale which will ensure the site's redevelopment contributes to the economic growth and regeneration of Ipswich."