Growing concern over former Needham Market and Stowmarket middle school sites

Stowmarket Middle School
Stowmarket Middle School

Concern is growing for the future of two former middle school sites which have stood empty for more than two years.

Needham Market Town Council said this week it is to seek confirmation from Mid Suffolk District Council that original plans for a ‘community hub’ at the site of Needham Market Middle School, on School Street, along with affordable housing, will not be lost.

Needham Market Middle School

Needham Market Middle School

It follows news that a developer has now been appointed and fears the council and residents will not be fully consulted on the redevelopment.

Stowmarket Town Council meanwhile say there is also concern amongst residents about the future of Stowmarket Middle School, on Walnut Tree Walk, which they are worried could become an eyesore.

Both middle schools closed in July 2015 and are currently boarded up

“Needham Market Town Council and our local community sincerely hope Mid Suffolk District Council has not lost sight of the firm commitments to include a community hub building within the redevelopment,” said Xy Stansfield, Needham Market Mayor and town council chairman.

“The benefits this will deliver to the community were clearly established in a business case funded by Suffolk County Council in November 2015.

“Redevelopment of the site without delivery of the full range of these benefits will deprive the community of a significant and demonstrated opportunity.”

The original Suffolk County Council ideas, welcomed by the town council before Mid Suffolk District Council bought the site, included a library, an internet cafe, and a museum.

Mid Suffolk District Council bought the Needham site from Suffolk County Council in August 2016.

The purchase of the Stowmarket Middle School, along with a former community education centre, in Childer Road followed in March 2017.

Stowmarket Town Council say it has received ‘a number’ of inquiries from the public as to the future of the Stowmarket site.

A spokesperson for Mid Suffolk District Council said: “We appointed a development partner, Iceni Homes, in September with whom we are currently working on plans to regenerate both sites.

“In terms of the internet café and other community facilities at Needham, we are working with both of them throughout this process to try to ensure these much valued facilities will continue to be provided.

“There will be all sorts of opportunities for people to give their opinions during pre-planning consultation before any planning application is made, which will then itself be subject to the statutory planning procedures.”