Multi-million pound Suffolk heritage centre set for UCS in Ipswich

An artist's impression of the new heritage centre.

An artist's impression of the new heritage centre. - Credit: Archant

A major new heritage centre, combining the Suffolk Records Office and new teaching facilities could be created at UCS near Ipswich Waterfront – if the county council wins the lottery.

An artist's impression of the new heritage centre.

An artist's impression of the new heritage centre. - Credit: Archant

The new centre would be jointly run by the county council and UCS – and will see the current records office in Gatacre Road moving to the new site. It should not affect the Bury St Edmunds or Lowestoft records offices although it will replace the Bury storage annex.

The cost has not been confirmed, but officials expect it to run into millions of pounds. The building would open in 2018/19 – but is dependent on a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. It also needs to be rubber-stamped by the county’s cabinet in June.

If successful, the building would provide space for 20 years’ worth of records, an exhibition space for community use, teaching rooms and a new auditorium that can be used as a lecture theatre or concert venue.

The new building has been designed by Concertus, the company formed by former county council architects which is still based in the county’s Endeavour House headquarters.

There had been hopes that the former County Hall building in St Helens Street could become a new County Records Office but this proposal was rejected in favour of a new-build on the main UCS campus.

The centre would be used by UCS for its heritage courses – management of heritage and East Anglian heritage courses are expanding at the university.

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And it should also have much better access for members of the public wishing to visit the records office to conduct research into their families or communities.

Rebecca Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for localities said: “This project will enable the county council to fulfil its statutory obligation to collect, preserve and provide access to the rich and nationally significant recorded history of Suffolk’s communities, organisations, individuals and families.

“Through working jointly with University Campus Suffolk we will be able to transform how this history is accessed by local people, students and visitors.”

Tim Greenacre, deputy provost at UCS said: “We welcome the planned new heritage facility at the Ipswich campus. This will strengthen our existing plans to grow our heritage teaching and research, and will be a major boost to the local heritage community.

“The project will continue the transformation of the waterfront area, and will be a major factor in the development of heritage tourism in the town. The improved access to archive collections will provide many new opportunities for students and academic staff, ”