Henham: Estate development plans not forgotten

PLANS to transform a Suffolk country estate are still on course despite a delay caused by the recession.

Outline planning permission for a new hotel and apartment complex to replace past halls that are no longer standing at Henham Estate, near Southwold, was granted in 2007, but the economic downturn has hindered progress of the multi-million-pound scheme.

The estate, which has been owned by the Rous family for 500 years, has become well-known for hosting the Latitude music festival, Grand Henham Steam Rally and Wings and Wheels event.

Hektor Rous, estate manager and son of the sixth Earl of Stradbroke, who lives in Australia, is spearheading the plans and wants to increase tourism and employment in the area.

Mr Rous’s father is seeking a three-year extension to the planning permission from Waveney District Council as work on the project continues.

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Mr Rous said: “We got planning permission in 2007, but unfortunately the economy then went into freefall. Some of the developers and hoteliers we have been speaking to are still very keen, it is just a question of timing.”

Mr Rous said the new building would look “modern” and be as “environmentally friendly as possible”.

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It would include apartments, conference facilities, restaurants, a beauty spa, auditorium and gym.

If the plans come to fruition, the estate would become a major local employer, offering potentially hundreds of jobs.

Mr Rous, 32, said: “We have had some good meetings this year with people about it. The idea is to find a hotelier and a developer that is the right match for us.” He added: “The argument for it is much stronger now than three years ago. Suffolk is so much more well-known now for a whole bunch of reasons like Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh and Latitude, and the Olympic expansion of the east is going to really bring the region to people’s attention.”

Mr Rous said he was optimistic about getting the planning permission extended.

“Waveney District Council has been really supportive,” he said. “They want to make this proposal work as much as anyone does.”

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