July 22 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Proposals are being drawn up for an exciting multi-million pound development to revitalise a town centre and provide new shops.
Details of the plans for the site in Leiston are still sketchy at the moment, but could possibly include a new supermarket.
Other ideas being looked at include small shops, a covered market and a piazza with fountains, and possibly some housing or a facility such as a library, community centre or council offices.
The site under consideration is in the centre of Leiston behind High Street and Sizewell Road, and part of it is in the ownership of Suffolk Coastal District Council as a town centre car park.
Work is currently taking place to put together a Neighbourhood Plan and the project will be a key feature of the blueprint for the future of the town.
Town clerk John Rayner said the proposals were in the early stages of being drawn up and the first stage would be to assemble a business plan for the development including what such a project might feature.
Suffolk Coastal had already been involved in the initial talks and agreed to hold off from any plans to sell its car park site while this took place with the aim being to create a coherent town centre development.
Mr Rayner said: “This development could revitalise the town centre and hold us in really good stead for many years to come.”
Town councillors agreed to release £2,000 from the Neighbourhood Plan budget to put towards the cost of the plans and possibly a model to show what the development drawn up could look like.
The model could then be used at a public exhibition later this year on the Neighbourhood Plan before a referendum is held.
Those involved in the project would be meeting this week to hear the latest thinking and updates.
Councillor Terry Hodgson said: “It is good news that people seem prepared to work together on a project rather than someone else moving in and drawing up a plan and saying like it or lump it.”
But councillor Colin Ginger said there are empty units in the town centre and questioned whether more were needed. He said: “Is there going to be enough trade to support this development, that’s what worries me.”
Councillor Ron Bailey said: “I am worried about this project but I am more worried about us not taking any control over that site – we need to ensure that something we are happy with goes in the Neighbourhood Plan.”