Almshouses plan for former Framlingham police station may ‘impact on leisure clubs’

Framlingham's former police station.

Framlingham's former police station. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

A charity’s proposals to build six almshouses on the site of a former Suffolk police station have won the backing of community leaders – despite fears over their impact on local leisure services.

Framlingham Town Council’s planning committee gave its unanimous support to the plans put forward by the Mills Charity, which will see the Badingham Road police station demolished and replaced with rented properties.

The charity, which has managed almshouses in the town for more than 300 years, says the homes will provide housing for young people who have been brought up in Framlingham, but find it harder to afford the rising price of property.

While the creation of affordable housing has been welcomed in the town, concerns have been raised about its impact on its neighbouring leisure facilities – the scout hut and sports club. Scout and guide group representative John Speight, speaking in the town council’s latest meeting on Thursday, said the new housing was too close to the scout hut, which would lead to noise complaints from the residents, while the access road was too narrow.

“For a very small number of homes, it will have a very large impact on the activities of the sports club and scouts, which are by far the biggest providers of leisure activities in the town,” he added.

“It will actively erode the social benefits of the town.”

Mr Speight highlighted a similar situation in Woodbridge where he said a new development had been built near a scout hut, resulting in “friction” with its neighbours.

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“It’s almost inevitable that this will happen at our site too,” he added.

Several schemes have been suggested for the site since the station was taken out of use more than five years ago.

Suffolk Constabulary sold the site to the Mills Charity for £450,000 in 2010, after the force moved into a joint base with the town’s fire service. The charity received permission in 2011 to convert the police station into housing but later found this was not economically viable.

The Framlingham and District Development Trust (FDDT) attempted to buy it from the charity to create a £1.7m community hall for the town. However, the FDDT failed to meet the deadline in December 2013 to complete the purchase and the project stalled.

Ed Sheeran, the multimillion selling artist who grew up in the town, was also rumoured to be discussing plans for a new youth centre for the site in 2015. The former student at Thomas Mills High School was said to be finalising plans to buy the police station in 2015, although nothing came from the discussions.

Suffolk Coastal District Council hopes to determine the application before the end of this month. The deadline is August 2.

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