When will work start on homes for former council office sites?
- Credit: MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL
Work to build dozens of homes on former council office sites in Needham Market and Hadleigh will get under way this summer, council chiefs say following delays to the schemes.
Babergh District Council's old Hadleigh base in Corks Lane has planning permission for 57 new homes while the ex-Mid Suffolk District Council HQ in High Street, Needham Market, will be transformed into 94 homes and a convenience store.
MORE: Needham Market council office homes plan approvedBoth schemes had been anticipated to start at the tail end of 2019, but reports being presented to both councils' cabinets this week confirmed there had been delays.
A council spokeswoman said both were anticipated to start this summer instead.
"The transformation of our former offices in Needham Market into 94 new homes and a convenience store is part of our wider vision for the town - together with the regeneration of the former Needham Middle School site and planned improvements to nearby Needham Lake," she said.
"There are a lot of different elements that need to come together in order to deliver these changes, including meeting all planning requirements and working with partners and the community, to ensure the construction project goes smoothly.
"Work will be begin on site this summer, with the first phase of construction due for completion next year."
On Babergh she added: "Plans to convert the former council offices in Hadleigh into 57 new homes were approved last March and since then we have been in discussions with the local community, including neighbouring Hadleigh Cricket Club and Sport England, to ensure we can find the best way to progress them.
"This has taken a little longer than we hoped, but it is important that we work together to meet all planning conditions and find the best possible solution for the town.
"We are hopeful that work will be able to begin on site this summer."
The two councils moved to Endeavour House in Ipswich in the autumn of 2017 as part of cost-cutting measures, but fears were raised that taking the headquarters out of the two districts would make it more difficult for people to access services.
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John Matthissen from the Mid Suffolk Green group said: "The decision to move out of the Needham HQ was made almost four years ago, and this project could have moved ahead much sooner.
"We pointed out two or three years ago that there were too many projects in the pipeline and not enough management resource handle them.
"The public perception regarding the delay will be worsened when we start phase one on the Hurstlea Road car park site, depriving the town centre of scarce parking space. This will leave the offices standing empty for at least another year."