Plans for new offices and retail space in seaside town going ahead
- Credit: Archant
Community leaders in Southwold are pressing ahead with a multi-million pound project to demolish several buildings in the town to make way for new office and retail units.
The coronavirus lockdown has delayed work on the Southwold Enterprise Hub project, which could create up to 90 new jobs.
But councillor David Beavan, who has long been opposed to the plans, has branded the town council’s decision to press ahead with the scheme as “callous”.
Southwold Town Council’s scheme to create a new business hub, also known as the Station Yard Development, would involve revamping several council-owned buildings on the corner of Station Road and Blyth Road in the seaside resort.
The project, which could cost as much as £3million, was approved by town councillors back in 2018 with the aim of creating new jobs by constructing office and retail space, as well as apartments.
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In September last year, the council secured a grant of £995,000 from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund to help pay for the redevelopment.
The scheme has proved controversial with many of the town’s residents, as the revamp would force several businesses, including a garage, to relocate.
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A convenience store was previously housed in one of the buildings, but has now closed.
Lockdown restrictions saw East Suffolk Council, who received the government funding on behalf of the town council, seek an extension to the conditions of the grant.
That request has now been granted, meaning the money now has to be spent by April 2022 - or it will be lost.
Ian Bradbury, town mayor, said the town council always planned to revisit the project once the threat of coronavirus was reduced.
He said: “We are trying not to lose the grant that has been given to us.
“We have always said that we aim to redevelop the site.”
However, Mr Beavan said: “This is outrageously callous of the council, and frankly stupid given the collapse in the market for offices.
“We have had a petition and two public meetings where the town council have been told in no uncertain terms that the town wants to keep our garage.
“Our elderly residents especially need a local garage to keep their cars on the road, as their only means of independence given the paucity of public transport.”