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Council reveals its masterplan for former headquarters site

Mid Suffolk District Council's vision for its former headquarters in Needham Market
Mid Suffolk District Council's vision for its former headquarters in Needham Market

Homes, shops, a care home and community space could form the transformation of a former district council headquarters, it has been revealed.

Mid Suffolk District Council unveiled its vision for the Needham Market town centre site this week at the first of two public exhibitions.

The former headquarters are vacant following the council’s 2016 decision to relocate to Endeavour House, Ipswich, after it was decided the offices were no longer fit for purpose.

On Wednesday, a drop-in exhibition was held at Needham Market Community Café, with concepts for the site being revealed to the public for the first time. Representatives from the council, Purcell Architects and Lawson Planning Partnership were on hand to answer questions.

The three development options showcased this week include:

n Option one – residential/retail

n Option two – residential/retail/care home

n Option three – residential/retail/care home/community space

The 2.25 hectare-site redevelopment could include 99 houses and apartments in a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments and two, three and four-bedroom houses; public car parking and cycle storage. Recycling facilities could be retained or relocated elsewhere in the town.

The council says benefits of the masterplan include retention of the listed building, retention and management of the existing duck pond; improved access to the High Street, Crowley Park and pedestrian routes; and high-quality housing.

The council has already carried out soft market testing to help explore possibilities while a planning and design team has been working on the regeneration and redevelopment project.

The work so far has identified that commercial office space in the town centre is currently limited. The council is still exploring retail options.

The council’s aims for the redevelopment are that it supports the town’s community, regenerates the site and delivers housing to meet local needs, while it also wants it to take place in a ‘reasonable timeframe’. It is hoped final plans will be submitted to the planning authority later this year.

A second public exhibition will be held at the Community Café on Tuesday from 3-8pm.

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