Our July committee meeting was held in the splendours of Suffolk New College which is now open. We were privileged to be the first group to use the building. Your committee has previously been meeting in the old College for a number of years and we have held some AGMs and Award ceremonies there, courtesy of the College. The new building is really rather fine and can only be properly appreciated now that the hoardings have come down. The total site is large, even without the southern part nearer the Waterfront which now belongs to the University (UCS). The New College is a low rise building arranged along the periphery of the site along Rope Walk and Alexandra Park.
The rest of the site, including the old tower block (soon to go) is to be left free of buildings. Their sports hall will fill the corner of Grimwade Street and the present entrance to the College, and the rest of the site will be sports pitches and general greenery - a splendid concept. Do go and see it!
Currently in the news again is SnOasis. The present company is Irish and in some financial difficulties, one is told. The concept has not been helped by plans from Suffolk County Council to build a major waste incinerator nearby. We await developments.
Mention of SCC reminds me of the proposed re-organisation of the county by the Boundary Committee. Court cases have deferred the decision yet again and with council elections due in May and a General Election, it appears we may be stuck with the status quo.
You will all be aware of the splendid redevelopment of St Lawrence Church into cafe/tea rooms. A complete 'family' of five bells which date back to Wolsey's time have been cleaned and restored and the tower made suitable to house them and cope with their ringing. Ipswich will hear these bells, the oldest complete set in the country, which would have been heard by Wolsey himself! (Editor: job done - well publicised on Radio 4, 10 September.)
In the planning world, the two major prospects are the Tesco application for the old B&Q site and the Ipswich School plans to move its playing fields and develop that location. Both continue to generate great interest. The Ipswich School plan highlights the problem of a suitable infrastructure. All too often (almost always) in this country, developments (sometimes quite large) take place and only afterwards do we address the supporting structures and services. Your Society is pushing hard to have roads, accesses, bus routes etc planned as part of such developments. And there is a good precedent - Ravenswood, on land owned by the IBC - where before you bought your property you knew the bus route and the bus stops which would be provided by the time you moved in. If it could be done there, it can and should be done everywhere.
Such lack of forward thinking and planning is demonstrated in road closures. I was reminded of this when Upper Brook Street was recently dug up again. In this case it was caused by instability of the road surface after last year's renewal of the gas main. But too often traffic disruptions are caused by the utility companies not working together. There have been demands for many years that the companies which supply sewer, water, gas, electricity get together and plan their maintenance together. Obviously exigencies have to be dealt with as they occur, but routine maintenance can be planned. Come to that, why are all these services put under carriageways? Schemes to put all services into a duct running along the road edge have been canvassed for decades but it never happens, even in totally new developments (like Ravenswood).
You will be pleased to know that our plans to mark our 50th anniversary are well advanced. A programme of lectures and meetings is almost ready, addressed by some national figures. The year will also see the publication of the history of The Ipswich Society, a work that has been in the making for a number of years.
By the time you read this, the Heritage Open Days will have occurred. This year promises to be better than ever with a number of new properties and a bus shuttle between some of them.
I mentioned in my last report that plans were afoot to provide Ipswich with a statue of Wolsey. A competition has been established and an artist and proposal will be chosen. Then the fund raising begins!
The Society would also like to see a competition set up to design the redevelopment of the site in St Matthew's Street between Berners Street and St George's Street (to be known as St George's House). This is a vital site which is a natural entrance to the town from that direction. We want to be sure Ipswich gets a building worthy of the site.
I should like to end by offering my and your congratulations to Tom Gondris on the award of his MBE for "voluntary services to conservation and heritage in Suffolk". Richly deserved!