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Deal agreed to sell Suffolk Coastal District Council’s HQ on Melton Hill to create new homes

PUBLISHED: 08:00 31 January 2016

An artist's impression of Suffolk Coastal's new HQ at the old Girdlestones site at Station Road, Melton.

An artist's impression of Suffolk Coastal's new HQ at the old Girdlestones site at Station Road, Melton.

Archant

Design work is set to start immediately after a council agreed to sell its current headquarters as part of a £6million project which will provide around 70 new homes in Woodbridge.

Suffolk Coastal is set to leave its premises on Melton Hill for a new smaller, purpose-built complex at the old Girdlestones factory site oposite Melton Railway Station later this year.

It has now agreed a deal to sell the 3.23-acre Melton Hill plot to Active Urban Property Group (AUPG) as preferred bidder, subject to contract.

Geoff Holdcroft, deputy leader of the council, cabinet member for resources and chairman of the Accommodation Programme Board, said: “We have made very positive progress on the sale of our existing headquarters and are now in a position to announce that we have a preferred bidder for the site.

“We have arrived at this stage following a thorough and detailed process to identify best value for local council tax payers, as well as Suffolk Coastal District Council.”

Mr Holdcroft said the shortlisting process had looked not only at price but also issues such as payment of the Community Infrastructure Levy, design and provision of affordable homes – one-third of the properties will fall into this category – and four developers were interviewed before the decision was made.

AUPG intends to start work on the planning and design process at once, including a 12-week community consultation process to help with the layout and design proposals.

Mr Holdcroft said: “I obviously cannot go into the details of the financial deal at this stage, but I would like to reassure people that the recent improvement in the property market has resulted in us achieving a higher value for the site than we had initially envisaged.

“Importantly, the capital receipts from the headquarters and Cedar House sites combined will cover the cost of our new headquarters in Melton. So the project will be effectively cost neutral.

“We will be able to move to the new building without incurring any debt or imposing any additional burden on the council tax payer.”

The new complex – progress on the new building is on time and on budget – will have lower running costs and should provide initial savings of around £200,000 a year, rising to £500,000 in the long run.

AUPG’s managing director David Hughes said the company was delighted to be selected and would be aiming to “deliver an exemplar project befitting such a prime site in a truly unique and stunning location”.

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