Villagers say no to any more holiday homes

Villagers have hit out at plans to turn units in a former Victorian factory, converted into offices in Lavenham, into holiday homes.

Residents told a parish council meeting that the historic village already had enough tourist cottages.

Councillors also heard letters objecting to having holiday homes at Constable Court, in Barn Street, and agreed to recommend refusal of the plans.

Council chairman Roy Whitworth said after the meeting: “We thought it was a little bit premature, despite the current economic circumstances, to write off these units as offices.

“The general feeling was that we would like to see opportunities for employment sustained in the village.”

Mr Whitworth said it was recognised that the village is a major tourist attraction, but with around 20 houses and cottages already in use as regular holiday lettings, the feeling was that there was already enough accommodation available in the village.

Constable Court was originally used as a factory and the redundant Victorian building was bought by its current owner, East Anglian Renovations, in 1995, and was renovated into eight office units a year later.

Plans before Babergh District Council are to use three of the offices as holiday homes.

In a statement, Ian Newman, from East Anglian Renovations, based in Ardleigh in Essex, said occupancy of the offices was “historically poor”. He put it down to their remote location and the area’s poor broadband speed.

He said the company had used seven estate agents to continuously market the offices since their development.

Mark Wincer, from Wincer Kievenaar, the Hadleigh-based architect representing the owner said: “Significant advertising by a number of local agents over a sustained period has not produced more than 50 per cent occupancy at any one time over the last five to 10 years.

“With a continuing demand on the owners for local authority rates and the upkeep and maintenance of the property, an alternative use for three of the units is sought.”