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Health chiefs set to lose thousands as controversial parking site to be sold

PUBLISHED: 19:30 11 March 2019

Paper Mill Farm is set to be sold  Picture: Sonya Duncan

Paper Mill Farm is set to be sold Picture: Sonya Duncan

A farm bought by the NHS 10 years ago to house car parking spaces for staff in Bramford is to be auctioned off for almost half what the service paid for it.

The Evening Star front page in August 2009 when news broke of the site's purchaseThe Evening Star front page in August 2009 when news broke of the site's purchase

Paper Mill Farm in Bramford was bought for £475,000 in 2009 and will now be sold because it was never used and is surplus to requirements.

The farmhouse, outbuilding and paddock on the site have a guide price of £250,000+ when the site goes under the hammer at the end of the month.

The site had been owned by Suffolk’s primary care trust (PCT) before it was disbanded in 2013. The property is now managed by NHS Property Services who are selling off the site.

The PCT was criticised at the time for making the decision to purchase the site without going to a public board meeting.

The site was set to become a car park for the now defunct primary care trust Picture: Sonya DuncanThe site was set to become a car park for the now defunct primary care trust Picture: Sonya Duncan

The decision to buy the six acre site was taken by the board’s chairman and finance director.

The car park was never built on the site and as such the property is listed as being sold in “vacant possession”.

MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich Dr Dan Poulter said; “It’s extraordinary.

“I remember around the time I became the MP this was something that people in Suffolk were angry about.

Questions about the site's purchase were answered in September 2009Questions about the site's purchase were answered in September 2009

“It appeared that the then PCT had paid far too much for the land at a time when the money would have been better spent on patients in Suffolk.

“A loss of the best part of £250,000 calls into question the competency of the people involved in the process.

“I would rather see it spent on patients.”

Working in the NHS himself, Dr Poulter said that the money paid for the land could have been used elsewhere in the service.

Dr Dan Poulter said that he would be speaking to ministers about the sale Picture: ARCHANTDr Dan Poulter said that he would be speaking to ministers about the sale Picture: ARCHANT

“The cost of the car park initially could have paid for two nurses for ten years. Losing £250,000 that would probably be 250 hip replacements.”

Dr Poulter suggested that a better use of the land could have been to provide much needed housing in the district but that in the mean time he would be speaking to government ministers about the sale of the land.

The auction listing for the farm suggests that the existing properties on the site, which include a farm building and outbuildings, should be renovated or converted depending on planning consents.

The site will be sold by auction house Allsop on March 28 in London.

The guide price for the site is a lot lower than the amount the site was purchased for Picture: Sonya DuncanThe guide price for the site is a lot lower than the amount the site was purchased for Picture: Sonya Duncan

A spokesperson for NHS Property Services said: “Paper Mill Farm was originally acquired by NHS Suffolk Primary Care Trust to use as a car park for the adjoining office accommodation, Rushbrook House. This decision happened before the creation of NHS Property Services (NHSPS).

“Since that time Suffolk CCG have co-located with the council to improve coordination of services and to seek operational efficiencies. NHSPS has supported that strategy by disposing surplus property assets so that the estate cost savings and proceeds from sale can be reinvested back into the NHS.

“NHSPS makes every endeavour to maximise the proceeds on sale, and on this occasion we have been advised by a range of professional advisors as to the likely selling price, given current market conditions.”

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