Former MoD building saved from housing

PROPOSALS to knock down a former MoD building have been rejected by planning bosses - fuelling hopes that it can be saved for a new community centre.

Craig Robinson

PROPOSALS to knock down a former MoD building have been rejected by planning bosses - fuelling hopes that it can be saved for a new community centre.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has turned down a scheme to demolish the Drill Hall in New Road, Framlingham, and replace it with housing.

Last night concerned residents, who had previously made it clear that they wanted to save the building and use it as a community centre, welcomed the decision.

Stephanie Bennell, chairman of the town council, said: “We are delighted. It is very good news as there is a general feeling that the Drill Hall should be retained for community use.

“However it is the first step on a long road. The developer could appeal against the decision.

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“We also have to see if the price of the building is accessible to the community. That's been a sticking point for a long time.

“It has been on the market for �300,000, which is beyond our means. However, hopefully we can now start to look at how we can move things forward.”

Winter Rose, district councillor for Framlingham, added: “It is very good news, provided the community can come up with a plan to use it.”

The Drill Hall, which was sold by the Ministry of Defence in 2006 via a system of sealed bids, was formerly used by cadets and was the temporary home of the Framlingham Area Youth Action Partnership (FAYAP), which has now moved to the Shalom Centre at Thomas Mills High School.

Spadge Hopkins, chairman of FAYAP, has already said that the group would like to move back to the building if there was the opportunity.

The Framlingham District Development Trust, which hoped to retain the building for community use, failed in its own bid to buy the property.

The site is now owned by Cripps Development Ltd in Beccles and it had hoped to knock down the building and create five new homes and eight parking spaces.

But Suffolk Coastal District Council decided against the scheme because it was contrary to the local plan.

“There is evidence of an established need within Framlingham for the community or recreational use of this building,” a spokesman said. “The district council is not satisfied that this use cannot be achieved on this site.”

Cripps Development Ltd was unavailable for comment last night.