Town's last filling station closes down

MOTORISTS will have to travel further to buy petrol after the death knell was sounded yesterday for their town's garage.Suffolk Coastal District Council approved the redevelopment of the site occupied by Wards garage in High Street, Aldeburgh, by a majority of three votes at a meeting of the development control sub committee.

MOTORISTS will have to travel further to buy petrol after the death knell was sounded yesterday for their town's garage.

Suffolk Coastal District Council approved the redevelopment of the site occupied by Wards garage in High Street, Aldeburgh, by a majority of three votes at a meeting of the development control sub committee.

Now the garage and adjacent buildings will be turned into seven houses, two maisonettes and two retail units. The only other outlet, on the outskirts of the town, was destroyed by fire and never reopened and now residents will have to go Snape or Leiston for their petrol.

Wards used to be a family business but it has been in the ownership of the Thorpeness and Aldeburgh Hotels group for a few years and the company had said it was impossible to make money out of selling petrol when competing with supermarkets.


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Stuart Reid, their planning agent, said: ''In common with other privately owned outlets competing against the supermarkets and national chains, the garage is running at a loss despite the petrol prices being the highest in the area.

''The pumps involve a swing arm action over the pavement which cannot be avoided at the site and which in turn is a health and safety issue putting the petrol licence under threat without redevelopment to the garage and resiting of the pumps.

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''Such investment in that regard is not a viable economic proposition at Aldeburgh with its limited customer catchment area and the cheaper pump prices elsewhere.''

The garage provided a ''rather antiquated charm'' to Aldeburgh, said planning officers. But they warned that the garage blocked a public pavement and drivers had to stop on double yellow lines to use the petrol pump.

The architects Gaunt Francis said: ''The existing site is generally a mix of poor quality light industrial buildings arranged somewhat haphazardly around the garage and vehicular storage yard.

''Although the buildings comprising Wards garage have clearly been part of the townscape for many years, they generally have little merit.''

Aldeburgh Society did not object but said: ''The loss of a petrol facility will undoubtedly cause considerable concern, particularly in that the nearest facility will now be either in Leiston or Snape, some four miles distant.''

Residents are resigned to the loss of the garage and objectors to the proposals concentrated on the plans for the new development and the effect on the town's landscape.

Jenny Simpson, of Town Steps, warned that there could be ''considerable vibrations'' during demolition of the buildings and she was worried that her property, one of the oldest in Aldeburgh, could be damaged.

Her neighbours Angela and John Campling, of Town Steps, wrote: ''We feel that development of this site can only enhance the High Street, provided that the designs are compatible with the street scene in the Conservation Area. One of the delights of Aldeburgh is the interesting mix and juxtaposition of properties.''

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