March 13 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Royal Mail has indicated for the first time it might be willing to sell its delivery office in the centre of Saffron Walden.
Talk of redeveloping the site has been going on for years but until now the company had remained tight-lipped about its intentions.
While Royal Mail has no plans to close or relocate the hub in the very near future, an agent acting on behalf of the firm has suggested it would consider the possibility of selling off the L-shaped piece of land, between Abbey Lane and Park Lane, if the right offer came along.
A planning consultant for DTZ, the company responsible for the management of Royal Mail’s estate, has written to Uttlesford District Council and asked for the site – equivalent to one-and-a-half Olympic-size swimming pools – to be included in the authority’s draft Local Plan.
In the letter, Claire Davies wrote: “Whilst there are no current plans for Royal Mail’s Delivery Offices in the administrative area of Uttlesford to be closed or relocated, we request the inclusion of Saffron Walden Delivery Office ... within the draft Local Plan Additional Housing Numbers and Sites document.
“It should be noted that the relocation/re-provision of Royal Mail’s operations is essential prior to redevelopment of the site.
“Furthermore, in order for the site to be brought forward for redevelopment, relocation will need to be viable for and commercially attractive to Royal Mail.”
The comments were submitted during the district council’s most recent consultation on its draft Local Plan.
Officers have listed the delivery office as one of a number of potential sites that could make up for any shortfall in the 10,400 new houses planned over a 20-year period.
However, what makes it less attractive is that a major redevelopment incorporating the site’s listed building would likely be unviable, according to experts.
Mayor Keith Eden said: “It is no surprise now Royal Mail has been privatised that it would look at ways to release some of its assets, and in that sense we can now see the site of the Saffron Walden delivery office is available.
“One of the buildings is listed so it would add an enormous cost if you wanted to make any radical changes to the site, but it’s interesting because it adds another flavour to the mix of possible development in Saffron Walden town centre.”
Sixty-three people are employed at the delivery office.
As yet, it is unclear what would happen to the mail collection service were the site to be closed or relocated, but Cllr Eden did not see it as a major issue.
“One of the benefits of privatising Royal Mail has been that it is becoming more imaginative,” he added.
“Things like ‘click and collect’ have become more popular and I see no reason why, if the delivery office was to be relocated, people could not pick up mail from somewhere else in town.”