Scheme to restore former Post Office could 'bring historic building back to life'

Craig Rivett East Suffolk Council former Post Office Lowestoft

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for Economic Development, at the historic former Post Office in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

An exciting scheme to bring a historic Grade II listed building "back to life" could get under way later this year.

Plans have been unveiled to restore the façade of Lowestoft’s former Post Office on London Road North.

Having been closed, and remained vacant since 2018, the former town centre post office could be set for a new lease of life.

Lowestoft Post Office

Back then, the Lowestoft Post Office in 2016. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A scheme has been lodged to restore the "historic character" of Lowestoft’s former Post Office, now owned by East Suffolk Council.

Proposals, which are currently "awaiting decision" with the council, have been submitted by agents Chaplin Farrant Ltd  on behalf of Rebecca Styles, the HAZ Project Officer at the council.


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Centring around "Conservation repairs to the former post office, new ground floor fenestration and entrance doors", the scheme also includes "Removal of external ramp, installation of new ramp to front entrance," as well as "Repairs and replacement, to external building fabric."

Lowestoft's former post office town centre remains empty

Lowestoft's former post office in the town centre remains empty. - Credit: Mick Howes

A design, access and heritage statement "to make alterations to and repair the Grade II listed former post office at 51 London Road North, Lowestoft" says: "The proposals are relatively modest in their nature.

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"The extent of the proposed work on site is largely repair and refurbishment with minor elements of change, namely adjustment of the existing external access ramp; reinstatement of the central door and flanking sash windows as per the original design; full re-roofing of the main and north range and full repair and refurbishment of all windows.

Former Post Office Lowestoft

Inside the former Post Office in Lowestoft. - Credit: Kings & Dunne Architects Ltd

"The intention is to leave the building with a weathertight envelope in readiness for possible future redevelopment as part of a second phase of work."

A council spokesman said that if the plans are approved, work is intended to start in the winter.

Former Post Office Lowestoft

Inside the former Post Office in Lowestoft. - Credit: Kings & Dunne Architects Ltd

The spokesman added: "These repairs will be funded through the London Road, Lowestoft High Street Heritage Action Zone, financed by Historic England and East Suffolk Council, delivered in partnership with Lowestoft Town Council and East Suffolk Building Preservation Trust.

"The project will help to improve the condition and appearance of the building whilst restoring its historic character."

Former Post Office Lowestoft

Inside the former Post Office in Lowestoft. - Credit: Kings & Dunne Architects Ltd

The former Post Office building was purchased by the council in 2018 as part of a wider programme to boost regeneration in the town centre.

Located within the London Road, Lowestoft High Street Heritage Action Zone - a heritage-led regeneration project led by East Suffolk Council in partnership with Historic England, Lowestoft Town Council and East Suffolk Building Preservation Trust - it is set within the South Lowestoft Conservation Area.

It was built as a central Post Office for the town and served to combine several of the more provincial post offices which existed across the town prior to the 1880s.

Reaction

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for Economic Development, said: “This building is an important symbol of Lowestoft’s past and an essential part of its future.

Craig Rivett East Suffolk Council former Post Office Lowestoft

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for Economic Development, at the historic former Post Office in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

"By carrying out this restoration work to the façade, we will not only improve its appearance significantly, but we will also help ensure that this wonderful piece of architecture and history can be enjoyed by future generations for years to come.”

Tony Calladine, regional director for Historic England in the East of England, said: “We’re pleased to support the repair of the Post Office and to see work start to bring this historic Grade II listed building back to life.

"As we look to the future of such a significant building in the Lowestoft streetscape it’s a great opportunity to creatively celebrate the importance of the post office to the town and its people.”

High Street Heritage Action Zone

Expressing their joy, the Lowestoft Heritage Action Zones tweeted: "We're excited to be undertaking the restoration for the former Post Office through the London Road, Lowestoft High Street Heritage Action Zone."

The High Street Heritage Action Zone is also delivering a programme of cultural activity though the remaining three years of the HSHAZ project and is thrilled to announce the start of Letters from the Past - a collaboration between First Light Festival and nationally acclaimed poet, Luke Wright.

Letters from the Past will create a ‘love letter’ to Lowestoft’s iconic post office whilst conservation repairs are under way.

First Light Festival director Genevieve Christie

First Light Festival director Genevieve Christie. - Credit: First Light

Genevieve Christie, director of First Light Festival C.I.C, said: "We are delighted to be working on this project that explores the past of the London Road North Post Office.

"We look forward to delving into its history, sharing local memories and celebrating it, through exciting new writing and original artwork."

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