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Lavenham: Increased investment and visitors prompts formation of new forum

PUBLISHED: 09:18 03 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:18 03 March 2014

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Increased investment by businesses in a west Suffolk village along with the expectation of a boom in visitors has prompted the formation of a business forum.

A steering group has been formed with the hope of launching the group in Lavenham in late May or early June. It has come following a meeting hosted by the parish council at the Guildhall which attracted over 50 members of the village’s business community.

Parish council chairman Roy Whitworth outlined plans for welcoming visitors which will include a phone “app” giving a guided tour with a commentary on the places of historic interest. This will be supported by a free wi-fi point to be set up in a phone box in the High Street, near the Co-op, which has been adopted by the parish and is due to be repainted by volunteers. Whilst many phone boxes have been adopted by their community it is thought that this use of a BT box will be the first of its kind and will allow visitors to download the “app” and give direct access to the village’s Love Lavenham web site. Those attending the meeting last week were told of the high level of investment with developments at the Swan Hotel, the Guildhall, the East of England Co-op and the recently opened Number 10 Wine Bar and Kitchen, in Lady Street.

Mr Whitworth said: “All of these investments are expected to bring more visitors to the village with the Co-op due to open on April 11 and the Swan Spa and Guildhall Museum later in the year.”

The meeting heard that one of the outcomes of a business survey compiled for the Lavenham Neighbourhood Plan was overwhelming support for businesses to work more closely together which prompted the forming of the steering group for a Lavenham Business Forum to focus on areas of concern such as parking and tourism.

Mr Whitworth added: “We have been concerned to see if there are ways to improve the welcome to visitors in Lavenham as well as looking at the quality of life for people living in the village and that it is not impinged on them too much. We were really encouraged by the feedback and we are ready to move forward quite quickly.”

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