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Five-and-a-half year Whisstocks boatyard vision hits peak in Woodbridge

17 May 2017

A journey which began in 2013 as a vision to redevelop a derelict Woodbridge boatyard reached its pinnacle as developers revealed a riverside panorama from the project’s highest point.

‘Common sense and compromise’ were attributes echoing round the Deben Wharf site  part of the £13m regeneration of Whisstocks boatyard and Nunn’s Mill factory.

It all started with a ‘bust-up’ between FW Properties and the Woodbridge Riverside Trust (WRT), which formed the Whisstocks Project to ensure work would benefit the community.

Differences were settled, first over a pint of Adnams and then long negotiations, resulting in more than half of the riverside site destined for community use.

It had been hoped the project would be complete by summer, but delays put back the date for completion to later in the season.

Addressing the ‘topping out’ ceremony with contractors RG Carter, financiers Investec, and members of WRT and the town council, FW Properties founder Julian Wells admitted that, at times, the journey had felt longer than five-and-a-half years.

“We faced a number of planning, construction and delivery issues,” he said.

“It hasn’t been easy, but we aimed to reflect the industrial and boat-building heritage of this site, and I think what is being built will do that aspiration justice.

“A bust-up with WRT outside the council offices led to an agreement that we would aim for some community ownership. We now estimate more than half the site will be in the hands of the town council and community.”

Six of 15 apartments are under offer, with one of three commercial units to be occupied by an unnamed local firm, and two suitors interested in The Chandlery restaurant. A boatshed will house construction of a replica Saxon ship, next to a new home for Woodbridge Museum  all protected by an 80ft floodgate.

Nearby Nunn’s Mill includes town houses, apartments and ground floor commercial space.

Woodbridge’s new mayor Clare Perkins directed “all credit it was possible to give” to Riverside ward councillor Kay Yule, who said she had followed in the footsteps of late Whisstocks committee chairman, Charles Notcutt.

She added: “We started with a vision and, as a group, we came to have trust in one another that we had the same goal. It could only be reached with ability to use common sense and compromise.”

Source: IPSWichstar, 9 May 2017

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