New homes plan for former Southwold surgery
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A former doctors' surgery in Southwold could be converted into homes for elderly or disabled people if a new planning application for the building is approved.
The Fox Trust wants to create four flats in the former Southwold Surgery in York Road for occupation by beneficiaries of the trust.
The charity has applied to Waveney District Council for a change of use of the building and its trustees are hopeful they will get the go ahead in the new year.
The surgery has been empty since the doctors relocated to the new Sole Bay Health Centre in Reydon in September.
Jeff Fuller, a trustee of the charity, said: 'It has been quite well received locally and the planning feedback we have had has been very positive. We are not changing the building at all.
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'We are applying for one first-floor flat and three on the ground flood. The partitions are all pretty much in the right place already, which is nice.'
The Fox Trust was established in 1962 by Anthony Fox, with the aim or providing affordable homes for elderly or disabled people in need who have been permanent residents of Southwold or its vicinity.
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The trust has a portfolio of 24 residential units based within 19 properties throughout central Southwold.
Currently seven properties are needed for the mix of single people and couples on the charity's waiting list.
The properties are maintained by the trust and beneficiaries are able to stay in the homes for life unless they experience a dramatic improvement in their financial circumstances.
Mr Fuller said the Fox Trust faced a problem competing with the market in Southwold, as it was restricted to paying a fair market price set by independent valuer under rules governing charities.
He said they often missed out on properties because developers were willing to pay more.
He said it was also difficult to find properties suitable for elderly and disabled people amongst the town's Victorian and Edwardian housing stock, adding that the former doctors' surgery would provide the perfect solution.
He said: 'We are having to increasingly think laterally about finding property because we can't compete with the market.
'The surgery really is a good opportunity for us and I can't imagine another one like it coming up again.
Derek Hindell, chairman of the trust, added: 'It is close to the town and in a nice picturesque location. The other big plus for us is that we own the property more or less adjoining it, which has a shared right of way with the surgery so it removes any ambiguity about that for us.'
Retired GP Dr Andrew Eastaugh, who was a partner in the Southwold GP practice for almost 30 years, said: 'I think it is lovely and I am absolutely delighted it is going to be used for the benefit of town residents and in helping to look after them.
'I am just keen to see it go ahead as smoothly and as swiftly as possible.'