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Charity defends controversial bid to sell off business units

PUBLISHED: 17:31 27 November 2019

Business owners in Miles Ward Court. From left to right: Alison Clarke, Perfect 10 Nails, Dustin Fjeld, Fjeld Consulting, Hugh Hales, Bespoke Therapy Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Business owners in Miles Ward Court. From left to right: Alison Clarke, Perfect 10 Nails, Dustin Fjeld, Fjeld Consulting, Hugh Hales, Bespoke Therapy Picture: Lauren De Boise.

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A charity looking to sell off business units to be turned into homes - giving several firms an uncertain future - has defended the move, saying it is needed to guarantee its existence.

A sign at the entrance of Miles Ward Court in Halesworth. Picture: Lauren De Boise.A sign at the entrance of Miles Ward Court in Halesworth. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Properties in Miles Ward Court and Chediston Street, Halesworth may be sold off by owner Foundation East, an employment charity, which says continuing to rent out the units would be unsustainable.

Planning permission has been submitted to convert the buildings into residential homes for over-55s, while a property in Chediston Street is soon to be put up for sale.

Tenants of the properties, including a massage therapist and antiques store, have said they face an uncertain future if plans go ahead.

Halesworth Town Council has called for the plans to be refused, citing a lack parking in the courtyard and the negative impact on the town's community.

Miles Ward Court in Halesworth. Picture: Lauren De Boise.Miles Ward Court in Halesworth. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

The town council's decision was welcomed by tenants, some of whom have said they would leave Halesworth if they were removed from the properties.

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Despite the objections, Foundation East says maintaining the properties is no longer a financially viable option and has been seeking to generate income - which would safeguard the organisation's future.

Foundation East also said it has been "open and transparent" with its tenants, keeping them informed with updates on the proposals.

The shop front of Gallery Antiques and the entrance to Miles Ward Court  in Halesworth. Picture: Lauren De Boise.The shop front of Gallery Antiques and the entrance to Miles Ward Court in Halesworth. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Chief executive Katy Ford said: "Like many small charities, we are facing significant funding issues.

"Governmental and European funding has gone, and despite putting an enormous amount of effort and energy into creating new income streams, we've been unable to replace the statutory funding we have lost.

"The stark reality is that we can no longer afford to keep ploughing in our dwindling reserves to maintain properties that do not provide a return on investment.

"Unfortunately, we are now at the point where continuing to use our reserves to fund these properties is commercially not sustainable.

"In the long-term, it is not the best way to support economic growth or make a positive social impact within the community, which, at the end of the day, is our purpose."


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