Woodbridge: Ambitious £8m re-development of former Whisstocks boatyard site revealed

Bob Merrett and Malcolm Hodd at the former Whisstocks boatyard site in Woodbridge which is set to undergo an £8m...

Bob Merrett and Malcolm Hodd at the former Whisstocks boatyard site in Woodbridge which is set to undergo an £8m re-development. - Credit: Archant

ONE of the most iconic beauty-spots in Suffolk is set to undergo an ambitious £8million restoration under new plans revealed today.

A plan for the Whisstocks site in Woodbridge.

A plan for the Whisstocks site in Woodbridge. - Credit: Contributed

Developers have outlined their vision to transform the derelict Whisstocks boatyard in Woodbridge, close to the town’s tide mill.

The Nunn's Mill site in Woodbridge that is set to undergo a re-develeloment as part of plans to transform the nearby...

The Nunn's Mill site in Woodbridge that is set to undergo a re-develeloment as part of plans to transform the nearby Whisstocks boatyard - Credit: Archant

The multi-million pound scheme has been put together following months of negotiations with various organisations in the local community.

The hope is to create a “heritage hub” for that part of the town - encouraging employment and boosting tourism.

Central to the proposal would be a 5,500 sq ft working boat shed in which it is envisaged a replica Anglo-Saxon ship could be built, an exact archaeological full size working replica to that discovered at nearby Sutton Hoo. The scheme also includes a heritage building that would be the new home of Woodbridge Museum and a community outdoor space that could be used all year round for a variety of events.

There would also be room for a restaurant, a cafe, cafe/bar and two shops along with 14 holiday homes on the upper levels of two of the buildings overlooking the estuary and 18 private car parking spaces.

At the same time as the Whisstocks restoration the nearby Nunn’s Mill site in Quayside would also be re-developed into seven new town houses, four flats and two commercial units along with 15 car parking spaces to the rear.

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The proposals have been put together by Norwich-based developers FW Properties following talks with the Whisstocks Project CIC (Community Interest Company), Woodbridge Town Council and other groups.

FW’s Julian Wells said: “The community element is very important. We are very focused on how this will work with the rest of the town.

“We want this to be a positive addition to Woodbridge. We are not in competition with the town centre. Our preference for our commercial premises would be for local companies or retailers, fitting in with businesses already here.”

FW properties is holding two consultation events next week so people can comment on the proposals.

Mr Wells said if all went to plan they hoped to start work on site at the end of this year or early 2014.

The boatshed and the heritage building would both be donated to the community by the developer and would be held in perpetuity by Woodbridge Town Council, which at a recent meeting said they were content with the progress that has been made so far.

The CIC’s Malcolm Hodd said the International Boatbuilding Training College at Lowestoft was interested in helping build the Anglo-Saxon ship, which he believed would be a world first and deliver enormous educational benefits.

“Building the ship would generate an outstanding opportunity for local young people to become involved in a project that will have national and international importance,” he said. “The public would also be able to view the work as it is ongoing.

“The entire scheme is very exciting and we have been negotiating with the developer to ensure there is tangible benefits for the community. It was vital to us that the area retained its maritime activity. Hopefully we can mirror the waterfront regeneration seen in other towns and cities. It’s now important for people to share their views at the consultation events.”

Bob Merrett, of Woodbridge Museum, said after 30 years on Market Hill the time was right to change premises. He said along with the displays giving a comprehensive history of the town they would also provide a visitor centre - handing out leaflets to give people an overview of what to look out for as they walked around the town and along the riverside.

He said the new facility could also greatly enhance their use of IT and interactive displays - especially for younger people - while the upper floor would be used to store artefacts and for activities including talks and demonstrations. “We’re delighted at having this opportunity,” he said.

PEOPLE who want to have their say on the plans are invited to attend two consultation events at The Crown in Woodbridge.

The first is happening on Thursday, January 24 from 10.30am until 8pm and the second on Friday, January 25 from 8am until 7pm.

Comments on the plans are being coordinated by the Whisstocks Project CIC. Email to info@whisstocksproject.co.uk or write to Mel Poole, community coordinator, Whisstocks Project, Sun Wharf, Deben Road, Woodbridge IP12 1AZ.