September 2 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
One of the best-known leisure clubs in the Ipswich area is in talks to buy a controversial piece of land that was considered as a potential travellers’ site earlier this year.
Clarice House, which is on the boundary of Bramford and Ipswich, has begun talks with the borough council about buying the land at River Hill which is next to its site – but just inside the borough although it is outside the A14.
There was fury in the village earlier this year when the proposals for the travellers’ site were published – and Clarice House managing director Stuart King warned such a move could kill his business.
At an open meeting in Bramford, Mr King warned that the existence of a travellers’ site beside the health and leisure club could put off his members and make it uneconomic to continue.
The proposals were abandoned in April in a move backed by Mr King.
Now he is hoping to buy the site and create extra car parking for Clarice House, which has 1,600 members and employs 49 members of staff, and to create a new country park open to everyone.
He has written to councillors and officials saying: “We need more car parking. We aim to buy the land to the east of our site and use a small proportion for this.
“The rest we would landscape for use by all as a country park. We think this would be a sensitive and community-focussed means of growing our business within a sustainable context.”
Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said the borough had received the offer and had been in touch with Clarice House – but it was still very early stages of any discussions.
He said: “While we are aware of their offer, it will have to be looked at very carefully and we will have to look at other potential uses for that site to get the best possible value for council tax payers.
“However we do understand their interest in the site and we will see what happens over the next few months.”