Ipswich: County Hall on top ten most endangered buildings list

Urgent work will be carried out on one of the town’s best-known historic landmarks – which was today named as one of the ten most endangered Victorian buildings in the country.

The former County Hall in St Helen’s Street was once the hub of local government in Suffolk but it now lies vandalised and ruined after years of neglect.

The Victorian Society, a national charity campaigning for the Victorian and Edwardian historic environment, released its top ten list following a national appeal to find the best and most at risk buildings in England and Wales.

And it selected County Hall, describing the building as one which was “initially designed to instil awe, then inspire with civic pride” but is now the “haunt of vandals, thieves, drug-users and squatters”.

However Ipswich Borough Council’s senior conservation and urban design officer Gail Broom insists there is positive news about the privately-owned Grade II listed building.

“We have been working quite closely with the owners,” she said. “We are having a site meeting on Friday. I sent the owners a schedule of urgent work to be done and they have said they are prepared to do that.

“Things are moving and looking positive. The owner is looking at a variety of options to try and get some interest but there is nothing definite yet. As long as the building is weathertight and secure it can last a bit longer.”

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Last week The Star revealed that the failing building was on Ipswich’s ‘At Risk’ register. And earlier this year we published exclusive shocking pictures of the disrepair.

Carole Jones, economic development and planning portfolio holder, said: “We share The Victorian Society’s concerns. This is an important building to us and we are doing our best but it is privately owned.

“We would love to get these buildings back into use but that is a huge project at a time when it is very difficult for local authorities to fund frontline services.”

Chris Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, which is calling for the public to help protect the UK’s historic buildings, said: “The public responded enthusiastically to our call for threatened buildings. It shows the public cares – but it also shows there are still too many historic buildings at risk, without recognition or protection.

“Whether the solution is restoration or finding a new use for a building, it always takes money and often a long time. In the meantime it’s vital that historic buildings are secured against weather and vandals.

“We owe it to future generations to ensure such memorable buildings are still around in 100 years.”

The other buildings on the list include the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Birch in Essex, and Holborn Circus in London.

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