New lease of life for a former drug den house

IPSWICH: Work to bring a house back to life that has stood empty for years is today under way.

The large detached house on the junction of Colchester Road and Woodbridge Road East has been blighted because it is part of the Shell garage site.

The fuel giant bought the property many years ago, but it has remained empty for some time.

A few years ago there were concerns that it was being used as a den for drug users.

Council officers and police were called to clear the house four years ago – and this prompted Shell to have it boarded up to prevent trespassers getting inside.

Now, though, it is being refurbished and is due to be handed over to a housing association to be let to a family on the borough council’s housing waiting list.

Bixley councillor Russell Harsant has been trying for years to find a use for the house – and was delighted to see the progress now being made.

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He said: “It is a very substantial house. It would make a good home for a large family and I am really pleased to see that work is under way.

“The houses along there were all very well-built and while it does need a bit of decoration and new windows installed I am sure that the basic structure is sound.

“The only reason it was not a very desirable house is the fact that it is right on the fuel station site – but there is no reason why it should not be a family home again.”

The house will continue to be owned by Shell, but it will be managed by a housing association which will work with Ipswich Borough Council to offer accommodation to a family from the housing waiting list.

n Is enough done to bring empty homes back into use? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail