Former Totton social club site set for affordable housing

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Testwood Working Men’s Club
The Testwood Working Men’s Club closed in November last year

AFFORDABLE housing is being planned for the site of a former social club after New Forest District Council said it was buying it.

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As reported in the A&T, Testwood Working Men’s Club in Salisbury Road, Totton, closed in November last year amid financial difficulties.

It had been trading for 70 years and members who hoped to keep it afloat even set up a Friends of Testwood Club group to explore ways to save the popular facility.

But the detached two-storey building went on the market for £550,000 earlier this year and NFDC’s cabinet member for housing services, Cllr Jill Cleary, has now given the green light to purchase the land.

A report by council officers stated it would help underpin its housing strategy objective to provide at least 600 new affordable homes for rent and shared ownership by 2026.

The report continued that “subject to a sensitive design approach – having full regard for the neighbouring bungalows – the site could accommodate a high quality ‘low rise’ development of apartments, subject to full planning permission”.

It added: “It is pleasing to have secured this site for 100% affordable housing. Homes that will meet a local need and make a valuable contribution towards the council’s ambitious development programme.

“Redevelopment proposals will now be advanced with further input from planning colleagues coupled with community consultation, and the submission of a full planning application in due course.”

Cllr Dave Hills is on Totton and Eling Town Council and, despite being a former member of the Friends of Testwood Club, told the A&T it was “good news” that after a year of lying empty it was being put to use.

He said: “We are in desperate need of extra housing in the local area and redeveloping existing sites such as this makes sense, as it saves building on green fields.”

He added: “However, I’m saddened that despite best efforts we’re losing what was an important social and community hub for the area.

“The population is increasing in Totton so the need for such facilities has never been greater. I’d support any future plans to provide new facilities in the area.”

A district council spokesperson told the A&T that it had submitted a tender to the current owners, but could not reveal the figure.

The spokesperson added: “The council will shortly complete its purchase of the site. Due to the commercially sensitive nature of the process, the purchase price is presently being treated as confidential.

“It is anticipated that a planning application will be submitted in the early months of 2020.”

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