Historic house’s new life

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AFTER 11 years of dereliction, a 450-year-old listed building in Mildenhall is finally set to be redeveloped.

The historic site of coal and building merchants, Ridley and Hooper, in Mill Street, will be converted into 13 units of affordable housing after years of being unused. Planning permission was granted by Forest Heath District Council on June 1.

The site has been closed since 2000, but Havebury Housing now wants to revamp the site, building five houses and eight flats on the half-acre plot.

The site’s 16th century grade II listed town house will be among the buildings converted.

Tony Wheble, chairman of Mildenhall Parish Council, said the restoration was good for the town and the Mill Street area.

“We need affordable homes here desperately and it’s really good to see such a historic building restored.

“It’s making that end of Mildenhall look good again, looking like it did originally years ago,” he said.

Peter Merrick, joint owner of the Riverside Hotel opposite the site on Mill Street, said he was pleased to see the area receiving some attention.

“We feel it’s been empty for much too long and it will be lovely seeing it coming back into use. Seeing empty buildings deteriorate is very depressing,” he said.

Joanne Rogers, town centre manager for Mildenhall, said that although retail focus was increasingly concentrated on the town centre, improvements to areas like Mill Street would help Mildenhall develop.

“That area in Mill Street has been prone to vacancies because footfall is more in the town centre.

“That means you can afford to lose commercial properties in that area as new residential flats means more people to use the town centre,” she said.

Suffolk-based developers Peecock Short Ltd are in charge of the project.