Council looks at buying riverside development to save it for the community
PUBLISHED: 08:02 12 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:02 12 August 2019
A town council could buy part of a prestigious riverside development to ensure it remains accessible to the public following a successful campaign to overturn its change of use.
Woodbridge mayor Eamonn O'Nolan said the move was being considered to protect the Chandlery building, which forms part of the £15m Whisstocks project, and prevent it from being divided up.
East Suffolk Council (ESC) had approved FW Properties' change of use application in April, which would have seen its two-storey restaurant split into smaller units and a first floor flat for tourists.
FW Properties said the building had proved too large to market as a single restaurant and needed a different approach.
But the change of use had been opposed by Woodbridge Town Council, and some sections of the community, who wanted to ensure the stunning views across the Deben from the first floor balcony would be available to the public.
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Woodbridge Town Action Group, which formed to contest the decision, recently won its bid to apply for Judicial Review, quashing the application.
High Court Judge David Elvin granted permission, saying it was arguable, "given the history of the site", that ESC should have considered the setting of the listed buildings - which include the Tide Mill - and the character and appearance of the conservation area. "It appears clear that it did not," the Judge added. "Indeed it is asserted by the council that it did not need to do so."
ESC confirmed the application had been quashed and the next steps would be to review and redetermine it.
Peter Ashken, who set up the campaign, said he was pleased with the outcome and hoped it would ensure a better use for the Chandlery. "It's clear from the Judge's order that he thought the council's case that it could ignore the impacts of the proposals on historic assets was very weak," he said. "ESC will need to take a hard look at these impacts when the application comes back for reconsideration."
Mr O'Nolan said he was pleased with the result as WTC had objected to more holiday accommodation at the site.
"We want to explore options to ensure it will remain publicly accessible and this may even include the town council looking at purchasing the building or listing it as a community asset," he added.