Gina and I were delighted to receive the Society's Award of Distinction for "Refurbishment of the Saleroom and Crossway" at the presentation ceremony on 12 November at Suffolk College. We were particularly pleased that both our architect Anthony Rossi and builder John Hogg were also present to receive their awards
This phase completes major structural repairs of the complex that we began over twenty years ago. At that time, many of the buildings were redundant and desperately in need of attention, and it was evident that "making good" was no longer sufficient to prevent continuing decay of the structure. It is important to acknowledge how critical the support and co-operation of Ipswich Borough Council has been to the final result. The Conservation Officer, Bob Kindred, has been instrumental in helping us to bring derelict parts of the site into useful, rate-generating activities. Small "pump-priming" grants and pragmatic planning consents enabled the west side of the site, for instance, to be developed into open-plan offices and an art gallery, thus creating a revenue stream to maintain the buildings for the future and bring an important part of the town back to life.
More recent structural repairs have been carried out with significant grant aiding by English Heritage and their active involvement has been much valued by all parties. The Regional Surveyor for English Heritage, Trudi Hughes, has been closely involved throughout and is delighted by the Society's recognition.
We recently gained planning consent to create a restaurant in the Grade I Listed east warehouse and we are now exploring ways to take this project forward. After so many years of major building works, our own resources are exhausted and in the New Year we will seek a partner or an independent developer to take the scheme to the next critical stage where the generation of income will ensure the survival of these internationally important buildings.