St Edmund's House
St Edmund House (previously part of SCC County Hall) is being converted into flats. No planning application is needed because such a conversion these days only requires a Prior Notification (14/00810). We understand 74 flats are planned. The fact that the building is being used is good news; it was becoming a bit of a problem to its Rope Walk neighbours, but the way that it can be converted without consultation is a worrying development.
I personally have some doubts about the viability of the flats. St Edmund House was built as an office block with large floor plates; most of the usable space is some distance from the windows. The flats will consist of a combined lounge and kitchen with natural daylight on the south elevation, leading into two bedrooms (no fenestration) and two ensuite bathrooms (with mechanical ventilation). Between the bedrooms is the single entrance off a central communal corridor with a similar flat immediately opposite (which obtains its daylight from the north facing external face of the building).
A design workshop....
... on the proposed 'Northern Fringe' residential development in Ipswich was organised by local boy Euan Connolly as part of his Planning dissertation and, on January 20, members of the Ipswich Society assisted Euan in the chilly 'Society Boardroom' in Pykenham's Gatehouse on Northgate Street.
Pens, pencils, post-it notes, maps and file paper were employed by attendees attempting to design their dream solution to the 'Northern Fringe' problem, with the simple provisos that (a) the scheme is assumed to be going ahead and (b) that some development was required (in case some bright spark designed a series of fields, hedges and a remote farmhouse). Numerous ideas were put forward on this controversial scheme and we hope that the exercise was helpful for participants and for Euan. We wish him all good luck in this project.
Buttermarket shopping centre
As this Newsletter was being prepared for publication, news broke about the sale to developers/investors of this important site. A mix of retail and leisure use including restaurants is likely.
Croydon's, 50-52 Tavern Street
The work carried out before Christmas on this early building with its decorative 1929 facade (built onto the truncated timber frame after a road-widening scheme) may have removed some excellent internal woodwork and plaster mouldings. Entering the old Croydon's Watchmaker & Jeweller store was a cultural experience: cabinets filled with silver plate, a fine staircase, stained glass window, cafe and much varnished and polished woodwork. The business was sold and went into receivership in 2004 and by that time had moved to Butter Market. The building is not Listed and has been empty since Blacks' outfitters moved out in 2012 - part of the original store is now a Virgin Media outlet. The Borough Council Leader, the Borough's Conservation Officer, an English Heritage inspector, the local MP, our own Chairman, the local press and others (no response from the Tesco Chief Executive yet) have all been involved in the concern surrounding the future of the building; however, by the time you read this, the 'stripping out' of the empty part of the ground floor may already have taken its toll.