Firstly I am indebted to the volunteers, building owners, local authority
officers and fellow members of your Executive Committee for their time
and effort expended making Heritage Open Days work. It was an undoubted
success, and a fair number of the popular venues reported a record number
of visitors, including 1,200 on the roof of Willis, I'll hasten to add -
not all at once!
We received help from a number of diverse outside organisations, Sarah
Holloway, National Organiser of Heritage Open Days (a sub-division of the
National Trust), David Stainer who ensured all of our 'open' buildings
were on the website and key members of Ipswich Building Preservation Trust
who staged a re-enactment of the Archdeacon's Court in the Gatehouse.
A big thank you to each and all, especially those I've failed to mention
There were a mere five planning applications to consider at the September
meeting of the Planning and Development Committee in Grafton House; you
will not be surprised to hear that discussions extended to fill the time
available. With respect to the applicants who individually want to know
that their application has received due consideration the Committee seem
to spend longer on small domestic applications than on major buildings.
Possibly because the big schemes are so complex, with so many drawings,
specifications and design statements that it is difficult for those with
little experience of the industry to fully appreciate the overall scheme.
On Wednesday morning there was little by way of discussion on the
important aspects of scale, height, massing and design. The talk
instead was about obscure glazing, extraction flues and relative ground
levels, none of which are of great importance to the future of the town.
I mention this because present were twelve local councillors, a chairman,
a minutes secretary, a representative from the Borough's legal team and
two planning officers. Not only was justice done: it was seen to be done.
The Victorian Society produced their annual list of Buildings at Risk in
mid-September and included in the top ten was the former Tolly Cobbold
brewery on Cliff Quay. You might recall that last year the former
County Hall was featured. I was asked to comment on Radio Suffolk and
surprised the presenter and some Society members by suggesting that if we
are to promote movement in the rebuilding of Ipswich the Brewery is not
amongst the leading contenders. I mentioned the gateway sites to the
Waterfront (the former R&W Paul's maltings, the silo and the Burton,
Son & Sanders building), the St Peter's Port site between St Peter's
and St Mary Quay and the former R&W Paul's offices at 47 Key Street).
All of these and more are in desperate need of a scheme, a future use
and some serious investment.
The good news is that a scheme has been submitted for the former Civic
Centre site - a new restaurant and 'theatre square', a public open
space in front of the New Wolsey Theatre. Let's hope it's the start
of further and greater investment in the town.