Owner of derelict Haverhill factory says council is ‘holding us to ransom’ as they attempt to redevelop it
The owners of a derelict Haverhill engineering factory blighted by vandalism and arson have accused St Edmundsbury Council of holding them to ransom over their hopes for having the site redeveloped.
The former Atterton and Ellis factory in Hamlet Green has stood abandoned since parent company Bernhard & Company moved production to Homefield Road in Haverhill six years ago.
It has fallen foul of vandals and arsonists ever since and was badly damaged in a major fire in November 2016.
Although the building is owned by Atterton & Ellis the access and car parking area at the front of the property is owned by the borough council.
The two parties have now reached an impasse over a potential sale of the site and its redevelopment for housing.
Residents of the area attended a recent town council meeting to express their frustration at the state of the building and the lack of progress in redeveloping it.
Resident Graham Coe, of Beaumont Court, told the Echo they felt the factory was an ‘eyesore’ and gave a ‘very bad impression of the town.’
He added: “We also raised concern regarding the condition of the site, the piles of rubbish and rubble, the effect of valuation of nearby properties, possible vermin infestation and why so little was done since the fire.”
Iqtidar Hassan, Finance Director at Bernhard & Company, has been involved with the attempts to purchase the access and car parking area for four years in order to sell the whole site to a developer.
Plans have already been drawn up for the potential housing scheme.
Mr Hassan said: “We are being held to ransom by the council, because unless we can get access to the site we can’t sell it.
“Were it not for the intransient way the council are dealing with this matter, the development would have been started some years ago.
“A conditional sale has been agreed with a developer who has considerable local experience and who is keen to expedite the re-development of the site.
“However, this cannot progress unless the Council officials at St Edmundsbury Borough Council take a reasonable view on the value of the tiny pubic car park on Hamlet Road.
“Council surveyors are trying to force us into paying an inordinate sum of money for that car park.
“It is a tiny and unusable piece of land which now prevents the whole development proceeding.
“Unless a sensible deal is agreed upon, Atterton and Ellis will have no option but to rebuild the factory on that site, using their right of way in perpetuity.
“This would result in an undesirable development as well as losing the local community over 40 dwellings, their revenue from taxes, the increased spending at local stores and the redevelopment of an awful eyesore.
“Atterton and Ellis has been a part of Haverhill for centuries, we care about the local community and the many loyal employees who live there.
“It is also frustrating for them to be forced to put up with this derelict site for so many years.
“Unfortunately, council officers have no incentive whatsoever to encourage creative thinking, hence, are denying the people of Haverhill a superb development.”
A council spokesperson said: “St Edmundsbury Borough Council was approached last year by a third party developer interested in residential development, enquiring about access over the publicly owned land.
“An offer was made to the Council and declined and a counter proposal made.
“Despite chasing for a response we have had no follow up from the developer since December 2017 and no contact at all with Bernhard & Company.
“We have a duty to our taxpayers which is based on a value linked to normal property custom and practice.
“We do appreciate the wider benefits and we are prepared to negotiate. We are available to talk and discuss this further if the parties get in touch.”