Grade II structures were to be focus of 172-home Barton Willmore scheme
Architectural campaign groups have reacted with anger after a selection of grade II-listed industrial buildings near Ipswich were destroyed by fire.
The cast-iron-framed Victorian warehouses, which had been a feature on Save Britain’s Heritage’s buildings at risk list since 2017, had planning permission for conversion into new homes as the heritage centrepiece of a residential-led mixed-use development designed by Barton Willmore.
But fire broke out at the hangar-like former Fisons complex at Bramwell, north-west of Ipswich, over the bank holiday weekend and destroyed the structures – placing uncertainty over the redevelopment plans, drawn up for developer Paper Mill Lane Properties, a subsidiary of GKL Group.
Barton Willmore’s proposals – given planning sign-off by Mid Suffolk council in 2016 – involved the refurbishment and repurposing of retained parts of the warehouses, a new market square, food production areas and attenuation wetlands.
Save said the timber structure of the north warehouse had previously been damaged by storms and that the fire was a “tragic” development that followed warnings about the need for greater on-site protection for the structure.
The Victorian Society said it was “deeply saddened that an irreplaceable part of Suffolk’s heritage” had been lost. It said the devastating blaze had been the third fire on the site in barely more than a year.
“It is crucial that derelict buildings are adequately secured to ensure destruction on this scale is prevented and our heritage protected,” it said.
BD approached Barton Willmore for its reaction to the fire and its implications for the project. It declined to comment.