2007: International fight for room with a view

As published by East Anglian Daily Times, 31 March 2007

It is landmark building which enjoys panoramic views over one of Suffolk’s most upmarket coastal towns – and there is now an international scramble to own it. Standing in the heart of Aldeburgh, the redundant water tower was built in the 1870s and is set to be auctioned off for a guide price of £175,000.

But there has already been interest expressed from East Anglia, London and America, and auctioneers expect a much higher price to be paid. More than 100 people have also attended two open days at the property in Priors Hill Road, adjacent to the community hospital. It is obvious that whoever buys the tower will enjoy panoramic coastal views after they have poked their head through the roof hatch and stood on the parapet. But a future use for it will ultimately depend on a decision by planners at Suffolk Coastal.

Peter Ogilvie, a residential negotiator with Savills estate agents in Ipswich, said: ”We have received interest from every conceivable quarter, from affluent businessmen who only want this as an interest to others who are hoping for residential consent. There are also those who are interested in having it as a folly and there has been such a huge amount of interest that we do expect it will go for in excess of £200,000. It is clearly a unique opportunity to acquire a stunning building in the heart of Aldeburgh with the finest views of the river and the coast.”

However, Mr Ogilvie added: ”Whoever buys it will have to do their due diligence for there are a lot of legal issues and they will have to approach the district council to make sure that any conversion would be suitable to the planners.”

David Harvey, a civil and facilities engineer with the Essex and Suffolk Water Board, said: ”The water would have been pumped to the top where there was a tank and then the pressure in the tank from being that high would pressurise the whole network. We have been arguing over when it was last used. I was under the impression it was 1979 but I have been told today that it was about 1982. Years and years ago there would be a man in Pump Cottage opposite who would look out of his bedroom window and see from a gauge on the wall if more water was needed in the tower or not.”

There are some water towers still in use in Suffolk, including Leiston and Saxmundham, and there are others, most notably the nearby House in the Clouds at Thorpeness, which have been turned into a des res. The tower is being sold by Northumbrian Water Ltd on Monday at 10am at a Savills auction in the Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London.

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