Mayor fears £3.9m HQ move will harm town centre traders

An artist's impression of Suffolk Coastal's new HQ at the old Girdlestones site at Station Road, Mel

An artist's impression of Suffolk Coastal's new HQ at the old Girdlestones site at Station Road, Melton. - Credit: Archant

Concern has been voiced over the impact on businesses in Woodbridge when Suffolk Coastal vacates its site to move to new offices.

Mayor of Woodbridge Josh Sayles has also called for Suffolk Coastal’s Melton Hill site in the town not to simply become a housing development – and for other uses to be considered.

Mr Sayles said: “Many are concerned by the loss of such large office premises from the town.

“While I believe the short distance to the new site will not have any serious effect on jobs, I do share the concerns of local shop owners who can expect less footfall at lunchtime and at the top and tail of the working day.”

The council’s site was an “enormous plot in a key location” and the community’s interest needed strong consideration.

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Mr Sayles said: “Perhaps significant parking to alleviate the chronic shortage, public squash courts, a seed-bed centre for start-up businesses, or homes which are affordable for our young people, award-winning architecture are being considered, I don’t know, but I do hope some serious thought is being given to matters other than how much money can be looted from the site.”

Geoff Holdcroft, chairman of Suffolk Coastal’s accommodation project, said a full Economic Impact Report was commissioned into the effect the move would have on Woodbridge and Melton, which concluded it would not be detrimental to the economy.

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He said: “The report shows that there will be no change in employment levels or local spending, while the advantages of providing additional housing and the new offices on the brownfield site in Melton will act as a catalyst for wider regeneration of that area.

“Our current Melton Hill headquarters is becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and it is too big for the council’s current staffing level.

“If we do not take this opportunity, future generations of taxpayers across the whole district would have to pay more to maintain and run an outdated building to house the council.”

The aim is cut running costs, leading to long-term savings for the taxpayer, creating a more efficient council.

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