New Ipswich records office set for approval despite design objection
- Credit: Archant
Plans to build a new multi-million pound heritage centre, The Hold, to replace Ipswich’s Suffolk Records Office are expected to get the go-ahead next week.
Suffolk County Council’s planning committee is being recommended to approve the scheme which should then free up more than £10m of Heritage Lottery Fund finance to develop the new centre.
However the proposed building has come under fire already from the Ipswich Society – the town’s heritage watchdogs – who fear the new building is too bland.
The application for the new building says it is expected to be visited by about 19,500 a year seeking to research local history or find out about their families – the current Suffolk records office in Gatacre Road has about 8,000 visitors a year.
The new building, near the junction of Fore Street and Grimwade Street, would be part of the University of Suffolk campus and would by run by the county and university together.
The total cost of The Hold is expected to be more than £16m. The county council has pledged £5m for the building and the university £1m. It has already won development funding of nearly £600,000 from the HLF and now hopes to get the £10m it needs to complete the project.
Getting planning permission is a vital stage before the HLF money can come through. The committee is due to discuss the application on Tuesday morning. Because it is county council application, it is discussed by that authority rather than the borough council.
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However Ipswich Society chairman John Norman, writing in the society’s newsletter, is scathing about the modern design of the building.
He wrote: “What is proposed is a mundane series of boxes, an anywhere building without presence, panache or style.
“With acres of flat roof, miles of featureless walls, on a site that has no relationship with its surroundings – not even a masterplan to explain how it will eventually contribute to the wider campus.”
The council’s planners disagree. They say: “The design meets the brief and would successfully meld a range of functions within an open, accessible, legible and visually stimulating interior. The design team has demonstrated a regard for sustainability in both construction and use of the building.”