Former council offices near Wimborne put up for sale

THE former home of an east Dorset council has been put up for sale – and could be a site for housing.

Furzehill, near Wimborne, was home to East Dorset District Council (EDDC) until the authority was abolished in 2019, when unitary Dorset Council was created.

Now, Dorset Council has instructed agents to begin marketing the vacant EDDC buildings and site.

Furzehill had been declared surplus to requirements by EDDC and Dorset Council inherited the empty office buildings.

In March 2023, following the new council cabinet’s approval of the capital programme, Furzehill was identified as a priority to sell to generate capital receipts – money councils can spend on funding other capital expenditure – such as land, buildings, and equipment – or for paying off debt, but generally cannot be used to fund services.

The 2.73-hectare (6.76-acre) site, around 1.5 miles from Wimborne town centre, was allocated for residential development and other alternative uses in the Christchurch and East Dorset Local Plan in 2014.

It includes several buildings, including the main 19th century house known as Woodleaze, a former 19th century stable building converted into office space, and two semi-detached residential dwellings.

There is garage/storage space and several modular buildings previously used for office accommodation.

The east of the site contains Woodleaze Copse, an area of ancient woodland. While it is not large enough to be considered on any Ancient Woodland Register, it is not suitable for development, as confirmed in the Local Plan Allocation.

Vehicular access is provided from the main Furzehill road via a long driveway to the east, and there is ample parking onsite.

The site is for sale via informal tender, seeking best consideration. This is expected to be in the form of Subject to Planning bids, but unconditional bids will also be considered, the council said.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for assets and property, said: “I am pleased we are finally able to market the Furzehill site.

“At a time when council budgets are stretched, it is vitally important that we explore all options for our property portfolio and sell what we do not need, to get the best value for money for our residents.

“Coupled with the current demolition of the former Weymouth and Portland Borough Council offices, renting our South Walks House building in Dorchester to NHS colleagues, and continuing discussions around other vacant buildings in Weymouth, Sherborne and Bridport, I hope people can see that we’re working hard to dispose of these old unused assets and help reduce further financial burden on Dorset’s taxpayers.

“I look forward to seeing the tenders made for the Furzehill site over the coming months. It is a fantastic opportunity, and I want to thank officers in the Dorset Council Assets and Property team as well as our colleagues at Avison Young for their hard work thus far.”

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