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Suffolk County Council drawing up plans to build 50 houses at former middle school in Newmarket

A council is drawing up plans to build on one empty middle school site in Newmarket, and has left the door open to build a new primary school on the other.

Suffolk County Council wants to build up to 50 houses at the former St Felix Middle School site in Fordham Road.

The part of the site earmarked for development will be the same area of the school footprint, but not necessarily in the same place, with the rest of the site used as green open space.

An aerial view of the site formerly occupied by St Felix Middle School in Fordham Road. Picture: Phil Fuller
An aerial view of the site formerly occupied by St Felix Middle School in Fordham Road. Picture: Phil Fuller

And at the former Scaltback Middle School in Elizabeth Avenue, the authority is holding back part of the site the rugby club do not use for a new primary school if its preferred location at Hatchfield Farm does not go ahead.

The county council is one of the biggest land owners in the region and last week announced it would be bringing between 15 to 20 sites forward for housing, and is spending
£11 million to get the projects off the ground.

Brian Prettyman, the council’s senior manager for corporate property, said its new policy was to build ‘the housing that best serves the need of the people of Suffolk’.

But Cllr Nick Gowrley, the Conservative cabinet member for economic development, housing and enterprise, would not be drawn on building social housing or boosting the number of ‘affordable housing’ units above the legal minimum.

“Any development we take out should be subjected to a business case but because we have control of that site we can put our own plans into that and yes, obviously, we want the greatest social value we can achieve out of that site and that’s the basic principle of every development we carry out,” said Cllr Gowrley.

And Duncan Johnson, the strategic housing lead for the authority, said: “St Felix has a certain notoriety in Newmarket as a very very prominent site and lots of people are interested in it so we want to make sure we are not overriding what the district or anyone wants for it.

“We want to understand what is the best thing for that locality. That the essence of our approach – what’s the best thing in that particular place?”