Buyers sizing up edge-of-town plot in Southwold
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Hopes have been raised that a controversial site at the gateway to Southwold could soon be redeveloped after it was confirmed that several potential buyers were eyeing the land.
For more than six years, a plot at the corner of Mights Road and North Road has been surrounded by hoardings – prompting complaints that it presents an 'eyesore' to people visiting the town.
However, this week it was revealed there had been 'a lot of interest' in the partially-developed former service station site after it was put up for sale with a guide price of £1.5m.
It is hoped that by the end of next month a potential buyer will have been identified to purchase the freehold of the site, which already has planning permission for 22 homes.
News that the land is up for sale and could finally be developed has been warmly welcomed by the Southwold and Reydon Society, which is campaigning to improve the entrance to the town, and by Southwold Town Council, which has demanded action over the state of the site.
John Perkins, secretary of the Southwold and Reydon Society, said: 'We are pleased that the site is up for sale. It has been an eyesore for many years. The hoardings around it have been vandalised and smashed in the past.
'The town of Southwold is picturesque but, ironically, the entrance to it is positively awful.
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'We are grateful from the point of view that developing the land will make it better to look at. We hope it will be an appropriate development for the area.'
The site is split into two parts, on opposite sides of North Road, with the largest section to the south. The permission to build homes on the land was granted by Waveney District Council in June 2007 and includes approval for two affordable apartments and four homes – a move welcomed by Mr Perkins.
He added: 'We do need more affordable homes in Southwold.'
After planning permission was granted by Waveney, a deep hole was excavated for a proposed underground car park on the site and the foundations were laid for new homes. However, the land changed hands and work then ground to a halt, leaving it surrounded by hoardings.
Such was the appearance of the site that when the Olympic Torch Relay came though Southwold in June 2012, the town council tried to cover up the plot of land, which is owned by banking giant RBS.
Last year, the town council had discussions with RBS about improving the hoardings around the site, resulting in new ones being installed.
Simon Tobin, deputy mayor of Southwold, welcomed the news that the site could soon be set for redevelopment.
He said: 'We are absolutely delighted to hear that the site could now be developed. It is the gateway to Southwold.'
The sale of the freehold of the 0.4-acre site is being handled by TW Gaze of Diss.
Oliver Chapman, commercial director at TW Gaze said: 'We have had a lot of interest in the site. It is a very desirable location for development and these sites do not come along very often for Southwold.'
Mr Chapman said he felt it was 'likely' that by the end of September the bidding process would have been completed.
As well as six affordable homes – which have to be sold at a discount of 40pc of market value – the planning permission granted by Waveney seven years ago also includes approval for 16 apartments.
In its sales brochure, TW Gaze says: 'The property is located on the edge of town on the main road into Southwold. The site is split into two parts, the southern side part being a former petrol filling station.
'The site has been cleared and we understand that the majority of the piling for the foundations has been completed.
'Planning permission was granted by Waveney on June 22, 2007. This provides for 16 open market apartment and two affordable apartments in a single building (south) and a terrace of four affordable houses (north).'
Last March, the then Southwold mayor Michael Ladd had described the site as looking 'awful' and called for action over the hoardings amid fears that someone could be injured if they gained access to the site through blown-down hoardings.
Anyone who is interested in bidding for the land should contact Mr Chapman on 01379 650468 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org