Demolition begins at Whisstocks boatyard in Woodbridge
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Years of campaigning for the redevelopment of a Suffolk boatyard was rewarded with the sight of bulldozers arriving to begin demolition.
Members of the Woodbridge Riverside Trust (WRT) gathered to witness a defining moment in their quest to reclaim the derelict Whisstocks site for public use.
Eighteen months have passed since developers won permission to transform the old boatyard into apartments, retail space, a restaurant and heritage centre. Plans were revised in the meantime to allow 14 properties, originally intended as holiday homes, to be sold as permanent residences.
Work began yesterday to dismantle the old building and nearby Nunn’s Mill site, which also got the go-ahead for housing in August 2013.
Guaranteeing the boatyard’s future as a largely public space with facilities for visitors and tourists was one of the main objective’s of the Whisstocks Project – set up by the WRT to ensure that regeneration would benefit the community.
The trust was formed in November 2008 from members of Woodbridge and Melton Riverside Action Group (WAMRAG) and the committee of Maritime Woodbridge.
It followed the sale of the boatyard and Nunns Mill sit to Whisstocks Developments Ltd, which submitted plans commissioned by Norwich-based developer FW Properties to include a community boat shed that will be used to build a working replica of the Sutton Hoo ship, a heritage building to house Woodbridge Museum and an outdoor space for community events.
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Carolyn Gibbins’ husband, John, who died in June 2012, was a founding trustee of the Whisstocks Project. She said: “He would have been delighted to see work beginning. It’s wonderful that his contribution has been recognised. It’s something he really believed in.”
Project leader Malcolm Hodd said: “This is a really important moment. It follows 15-20 years of campaigning. Community involvement was key.”
WRT chairman Pete Clay said the project’s success was in no small part down to the tireless involvement of Mr Gibbins, and that local craftsman Paul Constantine’s idea to build a replica of the Sutton Hoo ship had helped fire the public’s imagination of what could be achieved by redevelopment.
The Whisstocks Project plans to launch a new website in the coming weeks, setting out its vision for the future, and how everyone in the community can help shape what happens at the site.