Felixstowe: Luxury price tags for Bartlet Hospital flat conversions inflames row

The former Bartlet Hospital at Felixstowe. The former Bartlet Hospital at Felixstowe.

Andrew Hirst andrew.hirst@archant.co.uk
Monday, January 20, 2014
11:33 AM

Luxury apartments in a converted hospital once bequeathed to the people of east Suffolk have gone on sale for up to £500,000 each.

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Gipping Homes published property prices for the first wave of its Bartlet development in Felixstowe last week having converted the former convalescent care centre, which it bought from the NHS in early 2013.

The luxury price tag has provoked uproar among some who feel the community has been poorly compensated for the loss of an asset, which they claim was supposed to have belonged to it in perpetuity.

Health campaigner Michael Ninnmey felt the hospital should never have been sold for such little benefit.

“How could they sell such a valuable site for such a low sum of money without any benefit for the local community,” he said.

“It was very poorly managed by the primary care trust and Suffolk Coastal just rolled over.”

Felixstowe councillor Kimberly Williams was also “incensed” to learn the apartments were selling for such high prices while the developer had been exempted from making any contributions towards affordable housing in the district.

Peter Blemings, the company director, explained that affordable home contributions were determined to be inappropriate during discussions between the NHS and Suffolk Coastal, due to the costs associated with preserving the building.

“An iconic, prestigious building is being preserved and enhanced for the future – rather than continuing as a drain on the public purse,” he said.

Phil Hadwen, vice chairman of the Felixstowe Society, has applauded the developers for their approach.

“I’m very pleased with the sensitive way that the conservation has been dealt with and I’m delighted that another important building in Felixstowe has been saved,” he said.

Ms Williams, however, has criticised the district council for being too lenient with the developer and not enforcing its housing policy.

“We’ve got to draw the line somewhere and be more robust and rigorous in applying our affordable housing policy,” she said.

“It’s better developed rather than left to rack and ruin but the people of Felixstowe are getting nothing from this and it just goes to show that the district council did not think this through.”

Councillor Geoff Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet member with responsibility for planning, stated “categorically” that authority was committed to providing extra housing including affordable housing in the district.

However, Mr Holdcroft also said that the policies need to be implemented in a “thought-out, considered fashion” based on their own merits.

“When the original application was agreed in 2013, there were no Section 106 or affordable housing requirements placed on the developers, as they successfully argued they were trying to preserve a landmark building,” he said.

9 comments

  • Further to my previous comment, apparently the Conliblies have 'suspended' the 'Affordable Housing' requirement for three years !, talk about about policy on the hoof !

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    freedomf

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • as a lot of people died at the bartlett, can anybody tell me how to read the local deaths in the anglian and star . i do not want to know who died in northampton or devon etc.

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Blimey, who saw that coming? "Developer snaps up former publicly-owned asset for a song, makes millions, does nothing for the local community". Who'd have thought such a thing could happen? Everybody, apparently, except for the NHS and Suffolk Coastal.

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    PC Plod

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • Just accept that it's happened, a battle that was lost (for whatever reason) and move on. Yes, I agree that the town hasn't benefited from the sale of a building that was ONCE given to the town but later adopted by the state who then paid to maintain it etc. it was sold cheap but they are spending a huge amount of money converting it and that will bring money back in to the town when these new residence move in and start to make use of local shops and services. And, I have to say, it's already starting to look smarter rather than the run down overgrown site it has been for many years.

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    Homeofstowe

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • As someone who lives less than a hundred metres from this building I'm not sure if many people understand what state it was in before it was sold. It should have been sold as soon at the hospital closed, when the housing market was more buoyant and then it would have sold for considerably more money. A building of this size needs around £200,000 a year in general maintenance just to stay on top of it. The blame for the laughable sale price and lack of affordable housing contributions lays at the feet of the local council and local government not with the developer.

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    Jeb

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • Blimey, who saw that coming? "Developer snaps up former publicly-owned asset for a song, makes millions, does nothing for the local community". Who'd have thought such a thing could happen? Everybody, apparently, except for the NHS and Suffolk Coastal.

    Report this comment

    PC Plod

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • I would like to point out that The National Affordable Housing Programme has been in force since 2088 -2011 ?, contrary to what Mr Holdcroft is saying ?

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    freedomf

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • Whilst this must be irritating for the people of Felixstowe, as PC Plod has put it...why is there surprise about this outcome!

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    JustMyOpinion

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • Can't the naysayers see that bringing people into the town with money to spend is good for local business....,.you can't leave these iconic buildings in the hands of government - just look at the spa pavilion.

    Report this comment

    paul

    Monday, January 20, 2014

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