Sale hopes for Lowestoft factory site

A REDUNDANT industrial site in Lowestoft has gone on the market, amid hopes that its redevelopment could kickstart a proposed multi-million pound transformation of the area around Lake Lothing.

The American-owned timber company Jeld-Wen closed its joinery factory in Waveney Drive in June 2010 with the loss of more than 190 jobs, and since then the waterfront site has remained vacant.

But hopes are high that the 36-acre site – said to be the biggest industrial plot currently available in East Anglia – could generate interest from potential buyers, including companies in the burgeoning offshore sector.

Commercial property consultancy Arnolds Keys has been appointed to market the site, which was once home to the Boulton and Paul timber yard and forms part of an area earmarked for a major redevelopment.

The Journal revealed in February that multi-million pound plans – including a new bridge over Lake Lothing for cyclists and pedestrians – had been drawn up for nearly 150 acres of waterfront land in south Lowestoft.

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A new primary school, up to 1,400 homes, a water taxi service and new restaurants and bars were also included in Waveney District Council's ambitious proposals which were hailed at the time as 'an exciting vision' by council leader Colin Law, following the adoption of the Area Action Plan (AAP) for the Lake Lothing and Harbour area.

This week, Mr Law welcomed news that the former timber factory was up for sale and said he was hopeful that it would generate interest. He said: 'The formal marketing of this site is very good news and shows that there is clear engagement from the private sector in the opportunities that ongoing offshore developments will bring.'

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A spokesman for Arnolds Keys confirmed it would be marketing the site at home and abroad alongside international property consultancy DTZ. He told The Journal: 'This is the biggest industrial site currently on the market in East Anglia covering 36 acres and 628,000 sq ft of buildings, with extensive quay headings. The site comprises a colossal 628,000 sq ft (58,000m2) of industrial buildings, as well as quay headings.

'It is the biggest single commercial site that the firm has been appointed to market during its 106-year history, and comes just six months after the firm announced a presence in Lowestoft's OrbisEnergy Centre to provide consultancy and agency services to the newly-create New Anglia Enterprise Zone.'

Steeped in history, the waterfront site was purchased for �920,000 by Boulton and Paul which opened its joinery factory and timber yard in 1962. By the mid-1980s, it employed about 400 people and had become the largest and most modern complex of its kind in Europe. But in 1999, Jeld Wen Inc, purchased the former John Carr and Boulton and Paul companies from the Rugby Group to form Jeld-Wen UK Ltd.

Ten years later, in December 2009, the company announced it was closing the Lowestoft factory, saying it needed to make savings in its manufacturing processes in order to remain competitive.

Now, after lying dormant for two years, the search has begun for a new owner for the site.

Craig Knights, associate at Arnolds Keys, told The Journal: 'This site offers an excellent opportunity to acquire reasonably-priced industrial warehousing, both covered and open storage, in Lowestoft. With extensive quay heading, the site would be suitable for a wide variety of occupiers. The Lowestoft area is performing well due to the increase in offshore engineering, the creation of the New Anglia Enterprise Zone, and the recent announcement of the planned construction of the East Anglia Array wind farm development off the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk.'

Mr Law said the fact that Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth were both selected last year to become a Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering (CORE) – meaning the government will actively promote them as prime locations for companies within the renewable energy manufacturing industry – should help generate interest

'The site is included in our property database used to help match land and property to inward investment inquiries and we're working with the landowner and leaseholder of the site to help secure its future development,' he said.

'With Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth getting CORE status, making it a key area for future development in offshore engineering, this site is one of many being marketed at national and international events.

'Additionally, it has been included in the Riverside Road Local Development Order, meaning that it will benefit from simplified planning approval for appropriate development,' he added.

? Anyone interested in the site should contact the Arnolds Keys commercial team on 01502 509323.

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