THE former Sue Ryder charity headquarters at Cavendish is set to become a high quality care home after being sold at auction for £750,000.
It follows years of doubt over the future of the site which has been derelict since 2001 and includes the historic Old Rectory where Lady Ryder started her first home for refugees after the Second World War.
Competition for the property at the auction in Cambridge boosted the price well above the 400,000 to 500,000 expected by owners Sue Ryder Care.
New owner is Carefore Homes which already runs three homes in the region, including one in Sudbury.
Kathryn de la Garza who owns Carefore with her husband George Braithwaite said they were “over the moon” when their bid succeeded.
“It’s rare to find somewhere that has existing care use. We have looked around the outside of the site but haven’t been inside as yet – we are going tomorrow with our architect to look round and see what will work.
“We will use the whole site for care use. It’s a lovely project for us. We particularly liked the fact it has gardens and a pond.”
She assured people living near the site in the centre of the village that they would not face disturbance.
“Neighbours need not worry. We do very high quality buildings, and they will hardly know we are there.”
Carefore also owns St Joseph’s Home in Sudbury which was converted from a former convent.
Villagers have welcomed the sale of the site after years of anger about its dilapidated state.
Brian Kemp of The Green, Cavendish said: “We are absolutely delighted that something is moving at last and it is especially good if it is going to be a care home.”
Sue Ryder Care originally planned to sell the site for housing and hoped to make around 2 million from the sale.
One developer drew up plans to convert the Old Rectory into houses, demolish the newer buildings, and replace them with more homes.
But the deal fell through and the situation worsened last year because of new rules about building houses on flood plains.
Before last week’s auction Sue Ryder Care spokesman Steve Taylor said the low guide price was realistic in the circumstances.
This week he said the sale was good news for the charity and for the village.
“We are very pleased to make 750,000 which was more than we expected. We can now plough the money into developing new care services,” he said.