County hall for sale

PART of Ipswich's county hall complex, including the main 19th century castellated buildings which used to house the town's courts and prison, goes on sale to the highest bidder in the next few days.

By Graham Dines

PART of Ipswich's county hall complex, including the main 19th century castellated buildings which used to house the town's courts and prison, goes on sale to the highest bidder in the next few days.

Estate agent Bidwells has won the contract to market all the offices east of Grimwade Street, with instructions to obtain the best value for council tax payers.

County hall will become redundant from April when all the council's main administrative departments move to Endeavour House, built as the headquarters for former energy supplier TXU, which the council is buying for the "knock down" price of £16million from the company's receivers.


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Bidwells will be offering for sale the buildings east of Grimwade Street which front St Helen's Street, including the offices of the chief executive, county solicitor and libraries and heritage departments as well as the council chamber and the former county court room where King Edward VIII's lover Wallis Simpson was divorced in 1936.

The council's chief executive Mike More said: "The sale has to give the best return for Suffolk's council tax payers and it may well be that they are sold for housing."

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However, the rest of the county complex around Rope Walk, including the current education, social care and environment and transport buildings, is not yet for sale, and may well figure in ambitious plans to establish a university in the middle of Ipswich.

Councillors on Suffolk's ruling executive committee are against using the whole of the county hall site for higher education purposes.

Ipswich county councillor Kevan Lim said more new homes were needed in the town and there was "a desperate need" for social housing.

In a report approved by the committee, Lucy Robinson, the county council's director of environment and transport, said part of the county hall complex might be appropriate for higher education use.

"However, more consideration is needed as to the possible effects on county council land and buildings, and the nature of alternative developments which might be appropriate."

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