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 individually.
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.