Luxury waterside development scuppered

DEVELOPERS' hopes of turning a redundant boatyard in the heart of Woodbridge into luxury riverside housing and offices have been scuppered.Dedham-based Michael Howard Homes had hoped to overturn refusal of the scheme but their appeal has been sunk by a government-appointed inspector, who has ruled in favour of councillors.

DEVELOPERS' hopes of turning a redundant boatyard in the heart of Woodbridge into luxury riverside housing and offices have been scuppered.

Dedham-based Michael Howard Homes had hoped to overturn refusal of the scheme but their appeal has been sunk by a government-appointed inspector, who has ruled in favour of councillors.

Inspector Ava Wood heard five days of evidence at a public inquiry before compiling her report.

She decided Suffolk Coastal was right to insist the site should be kept for small-scale business uses or leisure and recreation, and rejected the appeal.


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Nigel Barratt, cabinet member for economic development, hailed the decision as very good news for the community and a complete vindication of the arguments made by the council and residents.

"It shows that the aspirations for this site by the council and the community have the backing of the inspector," he said.

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"Our aspirations include the protection of the river-related commercial and leisure activities of the area and the council will be entering discussions with all interested parties on how best to develop the site in future.

"I would like to give all praise to the district council and the local community, many of whom showed great dedication by attending all five days of the inquiry and making personal and effective representations which helped win the day."

Michael Howard Homes wanted to demolish the empty Whisstocks boatyard site and replace the empty buildings with 15 homes and five office/studios.

At the inquiry, the council's assistant director of planning and leisure, Jackie Ward, said housing was not needed, was inappropriate, and the development could potentially damage and weaken the local economy.

It was also pointed out that the boatyard had not been advertised or marketed since it had been closed.

The inspector felt that though there is other land available for employment in Woodbridge, the yard was "a rare opportunity for riverside-related businesses or activities to locate in an area that is traditionally dominated by such uses".

The inquiry heard from the developers that an additional cost of re-using the yard for boat-building was the dredging that would be necessary.

This evidence was disputed, and Sean McMillan, co-proprietor of luxury yacht building company Spirit Yachts Ltd, said there was no problem launching boats, and there was a severe shortage of riverside premises for boat-building.

Many objectors voiced concern about the "sterile" appearance of new homes in an active and busy waterfront environment.

Mrs Wood agreed, describing the area as "an interesting composition of boatyards, marine, industrial and other water associated buildings that relate well to the nearby historic buildings, which are the focus of visual and tourist attraction around Tide Mill Quay" and the proposed design was out of keeping.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

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