Property News

New CCTV camera for Southwold. 11.6.14.

Edited extract from EADT, June 11, 2014

Officials yesterday unveiled a new method to protect the coastal town of Southwold. The camera has been installed on Mights Bridge, the only route in and out of town.

The move was instigated by Southwold Town Council and funded by various local community funds. Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said “Southwold is one of our iconic seaside resorts and this is one method of keeping the community safe”.

Southwold hotel for sale. 25.6.13

blyth hotel

The 13-bedroom Blyth Hotel on Southwold’s Pier Avenue is up for sale at an asking price of £190,000. The Blyth Hotel’s lease was bought by the present owners, Richard & Charlie Ashwell, in 2005 and after a refurbishment it has become a popular venue for food and accommodation. The freehold property is owned by Adnams. Tim Gooding of Christie + Co in Ipswich, which is handling the sale, says: “Hotels in Southwold very rarely come to the market and we’re delighted to have been instructed. We’ve just started the marketing and are pleased to report that we’ve had interest expressed already.” The hotel is on the market as the vendors wish to concentrate on other career opportunities.

Modern farmhouse in Reydon, near Southwold, is named Grand Designs House of the Year 2013

Edited extract from EADT  21st May 2013

reydon grand designGrand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud is known for being critical of the properties that feature in his television programme.

But the designer and journalist had nothing but praise for Long Farm in Reydon when he presented its architect and owner with an award recently.

The house, in Rissemere Lane East, has been chosen from 150 entries to be named Grand Designs House of the Year 2013.

It is the second home in the road to receive an accolade from the Grand Designs judges, with nearby Bavent House being highly-commended in 2011.

Presenting the award during the Grand Designs Live exhibition in London, Mr McCloud said: “It was an instant hit with all judges. It feels welcoming, homely, impressive, yet not showy, considered yet natural, new, yet established… we all wanted to live in it.”

Architect Lucy Marston, who lives at Long Farm with her husband Robert and their two sons George and Edward, said she was thrilled to have won. “For me, it is a personal project,” she said. “I did it on my own whilst taking a career break to bring up my children. It was a real labour of love and an emotional process so it is really lovely for it to be recognised.”

The couple bought the plot in 2008. They demolished the existing farmhouse and renovated two barns to live in while deciding what kind of home to build.

Lucy designed a modern family home in keeping with the farm buildings already on the site and other properties in the area. The long layout, high pitched terracotta tile roof and red brick walls are typical of a Suffolk house.

The property faces east across the salt marshes towards the sea and has views to the north of the reed beds.

Lucy’s carefully planned windows allow views of the natural landscape in all directions and the linear layout of the rooms tracks the sun during the day. The rooms are connected with a series of sliding doors to enable the space to be opened up.

Traditional features, including a super-sized inglenook and windowsills deep enough to sit in, have also been incorporated.

Long Farm has also been short-listed for a Royal Institute of British Architects regional award.


Solar Farm go-ahead despite fears over impact. 16.5.13

Edited from EADT Thursday 16th May 2013

Councillors have gone against the advice of their own planning officers and approved the construction of a 26-acre solar farm in Quay Lane, Reydon , just outside Southwold, Suffolk.

Waveney District Councils development control committee passed a plan by AEE Renewables to build a solar farm at Reydon comprising 18,304 panels.

The panels are reported to be able to produce enough power for up to 1,362 homes.

Reydon Parish Council had earlier voted 9 to 2 in favour of the plan as it was thought the planned large hedges planted to cover the solar farm would boost wildlife.

It is thought that work will start from August this year.


Town hits back at developer over ‘Nimby’ comments. 13.5.13

Edited from EADT Monday 13th May 2013

A community has hit back at a property developer who branded high street campaigners “Nimby’s” for opposing the opening of chain stores.

Nick Ekins, chairman of Gentian Developments, also described those in Southwold who objected to a recent application by Costa Coffee as “mainly old, rich, white people”.

Gentian Developments own the sites occupied by WH Smith and Costa Coffee and has revealed plans to bring two more national chains to the town.

Graham Denny, high steward of Southwold, said he was appalled by Mr Ekins’s comments. He said “I believe that Mr Ekins and his company are totally missing the point. Southwold has its own unique character.”


Are Beach Huts Worth Up To £100,000? 7.11.12

Edited extract from EADT, 7th Nov 2012

With the housing market struggling to gain momentum and average property prices on the wane, one type of real estate remains resolutely robust.

The beach hut is still a sought-after asset in Southwold, where one is currently on the market for £50,000 and prices have in the past reached in excess of £100,000. In fact, asking prices for huts are even going up on some stretches of the beach, where more and more local people are choosing to invest in a seaside haven.

Southwold estate agents Durrants has seen a marked increase in the number of local residents snapping up beach huts – and some have started using them all year round. Manager Roseanne Green said: “A beach hut sold very recently for £45,000 on the north beach, where prices have actually gone up quite considerably. They were on the market for £25,000 about 18 months ago.”

She continued “There is still very much a market for them and our last three sales have been to local residents. We recently agreed a house sale in Reydon (near Southwold) on the condition that a beach hut was included. Not only are people looking for somewhere they can take their family and friends, but the beach huts also let out very well during the summer months. Even in the winter there are some who sit out with a gas stove and brave the cold.”

Durrants currently has a sale of a beach hut going through despite it only standing on the beach for six months, and being kept in a car park between October and April to protect it from storm damage. A hut just south of the pier sold privately last year for £80,000 and huts at Gun Hill have been known to sell instantly in excess of £100,000.

The tiny properties cost more per square foot than an average family home, with the added expense of insurance, annual fees and tax. There are about 300 huts in Southwold, with seven new plots opened earlier in this year. In high season the weekly rent for one can be up to £200. Anyone looking to take on a new asset could also consider a new waterfront flat or a three-bed former council house, both in Ipswich and currently on the market for £100,000.


Census shows high second-home ratio. 23.10.12

Edited extracts from EADT. October 23, 2012

The debate over the high numbers of houses available to rent and the percentage of second homes continues to divide Southwold and Aldeburgh, with many people upset about the number of empty properties, especially in winter.

But business chiefs say the boom in rental properties attract trade all year round and rental company Best of Suffolk says holiday cottage guests spend at least £1.5million each year in the town.

A recent report into Southwold revealed second homes and holiday homes in the resort now make up about 49% of its total housing stock and the adult population has dropped by 27% in the past 11 years.

Naomi Tarry, director of Best of Suffolk, said: “Over the past six years we have worked hard at Best of Suffolk to increase the quality of holiday accommodation in Southwold and Aldeburgh, and the result is that individual holiday cottages are now occupied much more than they used to be, particularly in the wintertime which was traditionally very quiet.”

Businesses cope with quiet months

With a largely transient population, Southwold has long been accustomed to a lull in trade during the winter months – but customer loyalty and trader resilience mean businesses are able to stand the chill. Almost half the town’s homeowners are temporary residents – some visiting for the summer and others less frequently – so, after the holiday boom, custom inevitably dips.

Naturally, the team at Beaches and Cream, which opened earlier this year, expect sales of items such as ice cream to dwindle in the run-up to Christmas. But they remain adaptable, with an adjoining restaurant, Coasters, is still doing a brisk trade.

Manager Lizzy Spindler said: “We were prepared for business to slow down during the winter. People are still visiting at this time of year and we expect Christmas to bring people in. We know November, January and February will be slow but we also know that in the summer we’ll be busy again.”

She continued “Perhaps some new businesses see how busy it is in the summer and expect it to continue all year round – but people do stay loyal and the regulars will keep returning.”

Pete and Clare Hart run Chapmans newsagents. Mrs Hart said: “There is a definite peak during the summer and a smaller peak at Christmas, but not like bigger towns and cities where it’s the busiest time of the year, so we do rely on local customers. “We’re lucky because we stock things that can be sold all year.”

Guy Mitchell, chairman of Southwold and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, who also runs the post office in the town’s High Street, added: “We have a very loyal following from local people, and from many second home owners, who support us out of season. “But it’s not just about the summer and winter – in two weeks we’ll be changing gear for half-term, and then Christmas is coming. Even so, businesses have to manage their cashflow fairly smartly.”


Southwold: Seven new beach huts priced at up to £50,000 go on sale. 12.7.12

From EADT July 12th 2012

They are the candy coloured huts that can carry an eye-watering price tag.

But holidaymakers will be buoyed by the news that brand-new beach huts are now on sale in Southwold.

Seven wooden chalets, and the lease of their plots, are up for grabs north of the pier, while five huts between South Green and Gun Hill are awaiting planning confirmation.

They are being sold by NPS property consultants on behalf of Waveney District Council, which sought planning permission for 17 new beach huts across North Parade, Ferry Road, and South Green in March.

People are invited to make offers for the huts in line with other prices in the area – with some fetching £20,000 north of the pier and £50,000 south of the pier.

Tony Rudd, valuer for the NPS group, said: “The proposal at the moment will be a hut and lease of a site for 25 years-plus.

“The huts will be done to a specification provided by the council and will reflect other huts in the vicinity. Southwold is a popular location for traditional seaside holidays, which is why the huts remain so popular.”

Such has been the demand for beach huts in Southwold that some have sold for up to £100,000 at Gun Hill, making them more expensive than a small family home in some parts of the country.


Is Southwold Our Snobbiest Town? 13.6.12

Campaigners fighting a Costa Coffee shop have been labelled elitist – but say class has nothing to do with their objections.

Daily Telegraph 13th June 2012

Number 70 High Street in Southwold, the picturesque seaside town in Suffolk, is a fairly nondescript building. Glass-fronted and red-brick, there are faded letters spelling out “Fanny and Frank Boutique Clothing” still visible on the window. To the right is a busy dry cleaner’s; to the left is Mumford’s hardware store and the Southwold gallery. Above, an estate agent is advertising a luxury apartment in the old offices of Norton Peskett solicitors. Passing tourists barely glance at the building as they scurry between antique shops and tea rooms to escape the drizzle.

But to the residents of Southwold, the empty premises at No 70 are very significant. If developers have their way, this will be the site of a new Costa Coffee outlet, the town’s first chain coffee shop and, locals say, a “watershed” in the destruction of their historic high street. Following the opening of Tesco last October, and the replacement of the town’s last bookshop with W H Smith, residents see the latest arrival as a threat to independent businesses – and they’re doing everything in their power to stop it.

Nearly 100 letters of opposition have been sent to the town council, signs have been hammered into lamp posts and droves of locals are expected to attend a public hearing on the matter next Tuesday. But with Costa’s proposals already approved by Waveney District Council’s planning officers, and renovation work well under way in the shop, residents say they are struggling to get their voices heard.

This week, Southwold’s “Say No To Costa Coffee” campaign faced another blow when commenters on a local news website branded locals “snobs” for their opposition to the chain. “Southwold has long been the preserve of weekender Range Rover-driving, Hunter boots-wearing city types,” wrote one critic, accusing campaigners of “wanting their offspring to experience the same twee, rose-tinted, middle-class utopia of their childhood”. Another wrote: “God forbid that the town has something that might attract working‑class people.”

The comments have left Southwold’s proud locals reeling – and, they say, confused about why a campaign to preserve their high street is being portrayed as snobbery.

“Do you see any Range Rovers around here? Well, do you?” asks Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson, chairman of the Southwold and Reydon Society and one of the main campaigners against Costa. I admit that I haven’t spotted a single one. He looks smug. “These comments are just atrocious. Atrocious! Has this person even been to Southwold? We’re not like that at all – take a look around for yourself.”

And I do. Southwold isn’t known as Notting Hill-on-Sea for nothing. Houses here sell for well over £1 million – a beach hut is currently on the market for £70,000 – and the high street is full of exclusive women’s clothing shops, artisan bakeries, delicatessens and gastropubs. There is not a scrap of litter, and even the rain can’t keep away the hordes of tourists, bussed in from across the country, who spend the summer strolling along the promenade and perusing expensive souvenir shops. It is little wonder this costal resort is a magnet for the rich and famous – Gordon and Sarah Brown have holidayed here, as have Chris Evans, Dame Judi Dench, Twiggy and Michael Palin, who famously met his wife on the strand in 1959.

“The idiot who described us as ‘snobby’ has revealed a lot about him or herself with those comments,” John Perkins, secretary of the local campaign group, says. “It’s ridiculous to say not wanting a Costa is a question of class – it’s a question of common sense. Tourism keeps Southwold afloat and the tourists come for the nice, privately owned shops that make our high street unique. If a Costa opens, those shops will be put at risk.”

Eighty-four per cent of Southwold’s retailers are independently owned – and out of 1,000 locals, about 400 are employed in tourism – but the town’s beloved high street is not entirely clear of corporate chains. Within a few hundred yards of the proposed coffee shop are Aubin and Wills, Crewe Clothing and Fat Face clothing stores. “They’re clamouring to open a Boots as well, but we’ve got two perfectly good chemists,” explains Prof Rowan-Robinson.

So why is the arrival of Costa such a big deal? Residents object to the number of coffee shops already in the town: 20 in the centre and 11 on the outskirts. “It’s not because it’s some garish chain; it’s because we already have more than enough places to get a hot drink,” explains Robert Adey, owner of Trinity’s tea rooms on the high street. “If someone had suggested a fish and chip shop, for example, that would be different as we only have one. I’d like to know why people are saying Costa would attract working-class people – you’d get a cheaper drink locally than in there.”

Campaigners have also accused the coffee chain of using unacceptable tactics in its planning application. “A developer acquired the shop, put in an application to refurbish and got permission,” explains John Veitch, 88, who has lived in Southwold for 40 years. “It was only then that we heard about the application to change the use.”

Costa, which owns 1,300 outlets nationwide, has sought permission from the district council to change the shop’s purpose from “retail” to “mixed use” – but, opponents allege, did so too late for local councillors to have any input.

For its part, Costa Coffee, run by Premier Inn owner Whitbread, says a branch in Southwold would create jobs and a “social meeting space”. But finding support for the outlet isn’t easy – just two letters received by the council have been in favour. On the streets, opinions are much the same. A group of tourists wandering towards the beach nod enthusiastically at the mention of Costa. One young resident says she “would quite like” one, but when I ask her name, she prefers not to give it as locals “can be a bit funny about this sort of thing”.

Unsurprisingly, existing tea and coffee shops are firmly on the side of the campaigners. Christine Webb, 55, owner of Tilly’s tea rooms for 20 years, says granting Costa’s application would be akin to “strangling” local businesses. “It will kill us,” she sighs. “We’re not like Yarmouth or Blackpool – we don’t close for six months when there are no tourists. That means we’re fighting to exist half the year; we lose money in the winter.” Graham Denny, owner of the nearby Buckenham coffee house, agrees. “I don’t want Southwold to become like every other high street,” he says. “Opening a Costa would seriously damage the town.”

Yesterday, there were more comments on local websites criticising residents’ opposition to Costa. “How awful for the luvvies in Southwold that when they visit their second homes once a year they might see people drinking coffee,” one person had written. “I am repeatedly shocked at the insular attitude of Southwold groups who would obviously rather see an empty shop than an open shop,” said another. But, with just a week to go before their chance to air their views in front of the district council, campaigners refuse to be deterred.

“We’re not high street snobs, but neither are we pickled in aspic,” says Guy Mitchell, chairman of the local Chamber of Trade and Commerce, who also works as Southwold’s postmaster. “It’s not fair to say that we don’t like to evolve. We are in favour of change – just the right kind, at the right pace, at the right time. Opening a Costa Coffee in the middle of our high street is none of those things.”

May 2012 News

With the complete sell out of the Tibby’s Triangle (below), Hopkins Homes have two new developments near the town. In Reydon (just on the edge of Southwold) they have recently launched Nightingale Place consisting of an exceptional collection of three and four bedroom homes with prices starting from £219,995.

A further 7 miles out, in Saxmundham, Hopkins Homes are offering Abbotts Grange, a highly desirable development located on the edge of this ancient Suffolk market town. With a wide choice of styles, Abbotts Grange can satisfy the needs of every lifestyle and consists of two, three and four bedroom houses, two bedroom apartments and just one two bedroom bungalow. Current availability from £134,995

Tibby’s Triangle, Southwold. A development of 34 stunning new homes including 1,2,3 and 4 bedroom houses and apartments. (NOW SOLD OUT)

March 2012

Lock up your daughters, single Mod seen in town!