What will happen to this much-loved former boatyard with a ‘view to die for’?
- Credit: Archant
The future of a Woodbridge riverside landmark with stunning views of the River Deben is still in limbo - despite fervent calls for it to remain part of the community.
There were fears that the Chanderly building would be split into smaller retail units and the vacant floor above would be used as a holiday flat, after the property developers FW Properties had a change of use policy approved.
However, with concerns this would cause loss of accessibility, this was overturned in April.
Campaigners from Woodbridge Town Action Group (WTAG) - formed especially to contest the decision - protested against the idea alongside Woodbridge Town Council (WTC) and won a judicial review.
Peter Ashken, who founded WTAG, had been in discussions about buying the Chandlery and said at the time that the building was the "keystone" and changing its use would "kill the dream" of what it could offer.
Proposals for a restaurant were submitted in August but there have been no further developments.
In October, community leaders from the town discussed the strategy of buying the property themselves, in order to guarantee the stunning views across the Deben would be available to the public.
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The Chandlery forms part of the previous Whisstocks boatyard site, which lies adjacent to the River Deben.
It was established in 1926 and was used up until the 1990s, building a wide range of dinghies, fishing boats, lifeboats and private yachts.
The site also sits within the designated Woodbridge Conservation Area and is very close to the iconic Tide Mill, a Grade I listed building.
Citing these reasons, the area is recognised by Historic England to be "in a sensitive position on the waterfront".
East Suffolk Council said the Chandlery has "always been considered important, given its close relationship to the river" and that it should retain "a predominantly commercial character to reflect the essential character of the Woodbridge Riverside and the past historical use of the site".
Mr Ashken said: "The opportunity still remains very much alive.
"WTC have taken the lead and I'm sure with a change of marketing strategy by FW Properties, the Chandlery will reach its potential and its view to die for will be enjoyed in perpetuity to all who visit Woodbridge.
"It would help greatly for the Woodbridge community to know the Chandlery can be a viable commercial business with a community outlook - given a fair roll of the dice."
When asked if there were any new developments with the site, Julian Wells, director of FW Properties, said: "I have no comment at this stage."