Breathing new life into town centres
PUBLISHED: 15:23 18 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:23 18 October 2018
Town centres are changing. Across Suffolk, from Ipswich to Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury, commercial buildings are being converted into new homes in the heart of the community.
Independent builders and architects are taking on former warehouses, offices, shops and even hospitals to turn them into stylish new homes, and go some of the way towards easing the housing crisis.
And town centre homes, in walking distance of shops, restaurants and theatres are good for the environment too as owners can leave their cars locked up for days on end.
Bury St Edmunds company Hartog Hutton is one of those developers, and I dropped in to Long Brackland, in Bury St Edmunds where new life, in the form of luxury apartments, has been created in a former wholesale warehouse/office building.
This striking Victorian building, with its brick and stone exterior cleaned, has been turned into six, new two and three bedroom apartments.
On the front wall of the main building there is the legend - Leonard C Makin wholesale grocers.
From here it is just a five minute walk to shops and coffee bars and the vibrant town centre.
Malcolm Payne, director of Hartog Hutton, took me on a tour.
He said: “We are really pleased with it. It is an ideal town location.
“This is a lovely, historic building.
“We bought it because it was such a pretty building. The architect saw it was for sale and we saw it had great potential.
“Most recently it had been used as offices.”
Work could not start until the office tenants moved on and cleaning the exterior revealed its original character, he said.
“It took about eight months really.”
It had been large open plan offices and it was the opportunity for the architect to design individual apartments, with lots of storage spaces and cupboards.
Cast-iron pillars have been hidden behind new dividing walls in these contemporary homes.
There is a light and airy vaulted stair well, some unusual window shapes, and a lift has been installed as well as the stairs.
The lift continues to basement storage.
In a great feature, the five homes in the main building all have separate lock-ups in the basement, the size of a decent sized garden shed, so bicycles, golf gear and anything else not needed daily can be stored away.
On the top floor the penthouse (no 5) is a three bedroom, two en suites home, with a fully fitted kitchen, and large living area.
Finishing details for these new homes include USB points within electricity plugs, and a CCTV entry system for checking on visitors.
Each apartment has a car parking space in the secure parking courtyard, which has electronic controlled gates.
Prices range from £285,000 to £430,000 for the five apartments in the main building.
The separate coach house is priced at £449,950.
More details from Lacy Scott and Knight.
Meanwhile, in Sudbury, the Hartog Hutton project to turn the former St Leonards Hospital into homes is nearing completion, with 12 homes in total in the Victorian hospital building and its grounds.
More details of these homes are available from Fenn Wright in Sudbury.