High price to pay for car park

SKY-HIGH compensation may have to be paid to a landowner by a council after its members decided homes could be built on a seafront site.Suffolk Coastal had hoped to buy the land for peanuts but could now face a bill of up to around £600,000 to buy just 0.

SKY-HIGH compensation may have to be paid to a landowner by a council after its members decided homes could be built on a seafront site.

Suffolk Coastal had hoped to buy the land for peanuts but could now face a bill of up to around £600,000 to buy just 0.6 acres of land because the site has been designated as suitable for housing, even though the council only wants it for a car park.

It needs to compulsorily purchase the site in Langer Road, Felixstowe, to use as part of the resort's south seafront development project.

Tourism chiefs had been hoping to buy the land for a much smaller sum.


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But planning officers in the authority went against their wishes for the site, recommending councillors give the go-ahead as suitable for 16 two-storey flats.

Councillors have not given planning permission but have granted the Executors of the Estate of the Late A V Thompson a Certificate of Appropriate Alternative Development, which will increase considerably the value of the land.

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The executors wanted to find out what the land could be used for had the council not wanted it for its project.

Felixstowe Liberal Democrat town and district councillor Dot Paddick said: "That will force the price of this land up – and now we will have to wait and see how this affects other land in the area and also how it affects the project.

"Future of the development of this land is no clearer and it is time the council had a fresh look at it with the residents to get a scheme people want."

Estate agents reckon the land will now cost the council anywhere up to £600,000 based on current land values, though the price could fall towards the middle of the scale because work will be needed to make any new homes "flood-proof".

After taking advice from consultants and lawyers, Bruce Laws, the council's assistant chief executive and lead officer for the south seafront project, had urged planners to reject the executors' application.

"The council's clear and established policy is to pursue a comprehensive leisure led development," said Mr Laws.

"It will maintain that approach regardless of specific schemes or specific partnerships. My argument is that, regardless of any particular specific proposals for the south seafront, there is a desirability in planning terms of promoting leisure and not residential uses on the site."

Approval would breach planning policy because it would allow piecemeal development of a fraction of the area solely for homes, not homes to help fund leisure facilities.

"Furthermore it proposes residential development of a type previously refused. It also incorporates the suggested housing use of low lying land," he said.

But planning officers said that in deciding the application councillors should proceed as if the scheme to which the compulsory purchase relates was cancelled and disregard development plan policy.

The land has been used for car parking for the past few years and permission for two-storey self-contained flats was granted in 1980 and renewed in 1983.

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