Suffolk council spent nearly £1.5m on empty offices

East Suffolk Council spent nearly £1.5m on its empty and derelict former Melton Hill offices

East Suffolk Council spent nearly £1.5m on its empty and derelict former Melton Hill offices - Credit: Katy Sandalls

A Suffolk council has spent nearly £1.5million maintaining and securing offices that have stood empty for six years, according to figures obtained by the EADT. 

The spending, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, shows that East Suffolk Council has paid £1,010,207 on maintenance for the former Suffolk Coastal District Council offices in Melton Hill, Woodbridge - nearly half the existing use value of the property, as rated in 2016. 

A further £426,492 has gone towards security on the site, which was vacated in 2016 when the council moved to its current home at East Suffolk House at Riduna Park in Melton. 

A drawing of how the ROSE development will look at Melton Hill

A drawing of how the ROSE development will look at Melton Hill - Credit: ROSE

Boarding also needed to be erected to protect windows around the vacant property at a cost of £14,726. 

However, a spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said: “Local taxpayers would expect East Suffolk Council to make the very best use of its resources and, despite the original sale of Melton Hill falling through when the prospective purchaser failed to complete, we will still secure considerable financial savings for the benefit of local communities.

"The Melton Hill offices were no longer fit for purpose and were accruing unacceptable costs which were resolved by the move to East Suffolk House.

"Given the condition of the buildings, re-letting would not have been an option and the development of brand new housing on the site meets a clear local need.

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"There is a clear net benefit for the council and its communities; not just in terms of overall financial savings but also the positive impact on our own environmental footprint, having moved to greener and more sustainable accommodation.

"By doing so, and even when taking the cost of securing and protecting Melton Hill into consideration, we will still make overall savings of around £1.8 million over ten years and around £5.25 million over 20 years.

"This is money that can be reinvested in essential services that our residents depend on."

On Thursday (June 16), construction firm ROSE Builders will be holding a public consultation after unveiling plans to build 100 homes at the site as part of a new estate which will be known as King’s View. 

The number of properties is the same as proposed in previous plans by developer Active Urban, which attracted controversy because their design resembled ‘cheese wedges.’ 

An artist's impression of how the 'cheese wedges' would have looked at Melton Hill in Woodbridge

An artist's impression of how the 'cheese wedges' would have looked at Melton Hill in Woodbridge - Credit: HOOPERS ARCHITECTS

More than 200 objections were lodged, citing the impact on air quality and the effect of the development on the view of the historic Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon ship burial site. 

The scheme, which would have included 32 affordable homes, fell through before the homes were built due to complications resulting from a planning appeal which brought to an end the developer’s contract with the council. 

The ROSE development will feature a mix of houses and apartments, which have drawn inspiration from nearby examples of architecture and have incorporated traditional features to reflect the traditional history of the area. 

The consultation will be held at the Melton Hill site from 2pm to 8pm.