Blueprint referendum at Leiston set for delay due to elections

Doubts have arisen over whether a public referendum on a blueprint for the future development of a Suffolk town can be completed before the council elections this spring.

Community leaders in Leiston feel it is essential that the vote takes place before May to avoid any delays in getting final approval for the Neighbourhood Plan but time is running out.

Tony Cooper, chairman of Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council, said: “If we don’t have the referendum before the elections, a new council could take a very different view.

“New councillors could come in and not like what is proposed and change it all and that could be quite a setback after all the work that has been done, and cause delays.”

Town clerk John Rayner said he had spoken to the county council and the draft plan had been given a thorough review to check that it met all the necessary policies and requirements, and now the same process would be held with Suffolk Coastal.

He said it was uncertain at this stage whether the vote could take place before the town and district council elections because there was still statutory consultation to be held, which would take several weeks out of the schedule.

The draft neighbourhood plan has suggested the possible demolition of several buildings in Sizewell Road to create a new 1,720sq metre town square which could be used for a weekly market and events, with 2,052sqm of new shops around its edges, a 168-space underground car park and 31 new homes.

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Land has also been identified for nearly 500 homes in the next 15 years.