Media group Archant reveals new home for its Ipswich-based business

Portman House, on the corner of Princes Street and Portman Road, to which media group Archant's Ipsw

Portman House, on the corner of Princes Street and Portman Road, to which media group Archant's Ipswich business is to move next year. - Credit: Archant

Media company Archant has announced a significant investment which will see its Ipswich-based business move to a new home next year.

Archant's current Ipswich site in Lower Brook Street, as seen from the top storey of The Mill buildi

Archant's current Ipswich site in Lower Brook Street, as seen from the top storey of The Mill building on the Waterfront. - Credit: Archant

Archant, whose titles include the East Anglian Daily Times and the Ipswich Star, has exchanged contracts for the purchase of a new office in Princes Street and for the sale of its current site in Lower Brook Street.

Both contracts are expected to be completed early in the New Year. The new office will house more than 100 Archant staff, with the move expected to take place during the late summer of 2016, following a full refurbishment of the building.

Jeff Henry, chief executive of Archant, said the announcement was further evidence of the company’s commitment to engaging with communities.

“This investment affirms our commitment to Ipswich and to our Suffolk publishing interests through the purchase of the landmark building, Portman House,” he said.

“Situated in the heart of the emerging business sector within Ipswich, it is the ideal home for our portfolio of Suffolk brands.”

Portman House lies within an area designated for business growth in a Vision document produced earlier this year for Ipswich Central, the organisation responsible for the town centre’s Business Improvement District project.

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Besides the Portman Road home of Ipswich Town Football Club, the area already includes the headquarters of Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council, in Russell Road, while self-invested pensions specialist Suffolk Life, part of Legal & General, has been based in Princes Street since 2005.

Work is currently in progress on the conversion of Fison House, originally the headquarters of former pharmaceuticals and fertiliser group Fisons, into modern, high-specification offices.

Regional law firm Birketts has secured planning permission for a new 50,000 sq ft headquarters building in Princes Street on which work is due to start early next year, with the firm expected to relocate from its present site in Museum Street in the first half of 2017.

The former R&W Paul maltings building, which operated for many years as a nightclub, under names including Hollywood, Kartouche and Zest, is also likely to be turned over to business use following its acquisition by the borough council.

And there are also plans to build new offices on the site of the garages opposite St Clare House, with the nearby former cattle market off Portman Road being another potential site for redevelopment.

David Ellesmere, the leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said: “We can see work already going on with Fison House, and Birketts will hopefully be starting on their building in the New Year.

“There is a lot going on in Princes Street and for a major employer like Archant to move in can only be of further benefit to the area.”

Archant has agreed the sale of its current site in Lower Brook Street to Montague Asset Management LLP, owned by Ipswich-based developer Churchmanor Estates.

Stephen Clark, managing partner of Montague Asset Management, said: “We very much look forward to developing the Lower Brook Street site; we see this as an excellent opportunity to use our knowledge and expertise to assist in the redevelopment and rejuvenation of a major town centre site.”

The redevelopment of the Lower Brook Street site is identified in the Vision document as a key element in plans to improve links between Ipswich town centre and the Waterfront area.

Archant’s relocation will come almost exactly 50 year after it moved to the Lower Brook Street site, from the former home of the EADT and the then Evening Star in Carr Street, Ipswich, in May 1966.

Portman House was part of a complex of buildings in the area once occupied by the Churchman cigar company, where production came to an end in 1992 when owner Imperial Tobacco switched manufacturing to Bristol.

More recently, it was occupied by CSV Media which moved to the Old Crown Court building in Civic Drive in June last year.