Homes plan for abandoned garage site

A PROMINENT garage site that was suddenly abandoned two years ago could be turned into a housing development for elderly people.The garage, leased by Jewells in Wickham Market, near Woodbridge, until the company left without warning in October 2004, has fallen into disrepair and is an eyesore on the edge of the village.

By Richard Smith

A PROMINENT garage site that was suddenly abandoned two years ago could be turned into a housing development for elderly people.

The garage, leased by Jewells in Wickham Market, near Woodbridge, until the company left without warning in October 2004, has fallen into disrepair and is an eyesore on the edge of the village.

However, Suffolk Coastal District Council has now received plans from Anglia Secure Homes Ltd for 20 homes for elderly people including affordable housing.

The parish council has expressed concern about the neglected appearance of the boarded-up premises but councillors are keen to ensure that whatever development is proposed for the land is of high quality and meets the needs of the village.

Anglia Secure Homes is a prospective buyer of the 0.4hectare site, which currently contains three buildings.

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The company's planning agent, J Hancock and Associates of Ipswich, said many rural sites used for garages were closed or undergoing redevelopment and this type of use was not considered to be a viable proposition.

“We are firmly of the view that this site does not hold a future for commercial uses particularly as related to the motor trade,” a spokesman said.

“The property has been marketed with an open mind as to types of commercial use that it would accommodate. Nevertheless there has been no serious contender for any commercial use.”

Part of the site is outside the development boundary of Wickham Market, but J Hancock and Associates added: “Our view is that the proposals to provide low cost housing on this site can be considered in the context of satisfying the 'exception' requirements.”

Cath Caudwell, parish council clerk, said: ''The only action that has been taken since the garage left is the boarding up of the windows.

“The development has to suit the needs of the village and if it is deemed that housing for the elderly is appropriate then we want to make sure it is the best quality.

“There are lots of issues to be discussed. It is an employment use at the moment and a change of use would be required and part of the site is outside the physical limits of the village.”

The garage is close to a narrow bottleneck on the main road leading into the village and this will be taken into consideration.

The parish council is investigating low cost options to alter the design of the road close to the post office to improve safety.

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