Green light given for Rendlesham theatre and sports centre demolition

Rendlesham sports centre

Rendlesham sports centre - Credit: Contributed

Demolition crews are set to knock down two disused buildings, despite a parish council’s desire to see them stay standing.

Redevelopment of Rendlesham’s Angel Theatre and sports centre was blocked at the beginning of the year, when the government backed Suffolk Coastal’s decision to prevent 49 new homes being built in their place.

The decision came shortly before implementation of Rendlesham’s Neighbourhood Plan, which contained the parish council’s ambition for the buildings to be brought back into use.

Although prevented from putting up homes, Walnut Tree Properties has now been told it can level the buildings without prior planning permission from the district council.

Both buildings were bought in 1997 as part of the old air base, but have since closed and fallen into disrepair.

Greg Vincent, consultant for the sites’ owners, said no one had yet come up with funding, or a viable business plan to take the buildings on.

“This is our only choice,” he added. “We have spent time and money boarding them up to make them secure.

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“The parish council wants more community facilities but hasn’t got the money.”

Rendlesham parish council had asked Suffolk Coastal to account for the buildings being listed as assets of community value.

It said the neighbourhood plan had clearly identified a future community use for both sites, including the buildings.

In opposing to the demolition, the parish council said: “Our objection is based on the wishes enshrined in our neighbourhood plan and the aspirations of the people who live and work in the village.

“We have, over many months and years, attempted to reach a mutually acceptable solution with the owner without success. Despite this, we remain committed to seeking to reuse the buildings for the community and look to the owner to support us in this aspiration.”

The parish council said it would support redevelopment for either leisure, education, retail or community use.

But Mr Vincent said the land was likely to remain unused until the parish council came up with a “sensible” alternative.

“While we are in this position, nothing will happen to the land. We still believe the only sensible solution is to build entry-level housing.

“I will now have to discuss the cost of demolition with the owners.”

Mr Vincent said that, due to business rate charges on properties left lying empty, demolition would probably begin “sooner, rather than later”.

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