Community centre plan hits problems

URGENT discussions are due to take place this week over a “misunderstanding” which may lead to a reduction in the land allocated for a new £1 million community centre project in a market town.

By David Green

URGENT discussions are due to take place this week over a “misunderstanding” which may lead to a reduction in the land allocated for a new £1 million community centre project in a market town.

Confusion surrounds the amount of land that the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich is willing to release at Framlingham for the new centre, work on which is expected to start within the next few weeks.

When the Framlingham Community Centre Trust successfully applied for planning permission for the centre, to be built following the demolition of the existing St Michaels Rooms, 35 car parking spaces were earmarked in line with the amount of land thought to be available.


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But as legal formalities have proceeded for the hand-over of the land, a discrepancy has been found between the amount the diocese is willing to release and the amount anticipated by the trust.

Critics claimed at the time planning permission was sought that the parking provision would be inadequate for a centre able to accommodate up to 280 people in the two new halls.

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Businesses expressed concern because of the existing lack of car parking spaces in the town centre, especially on Market Hill.

However, Suffolk Coastal District Council is understood to have taken into account the fact that most functions at the centre were likely to be in the evening - after most town centre businesses had closed.

Stephanie Bennell, town council chairman, said yesterday she was aware that discussions were to take place this week about parking at the new community centre but would await the outcome before commenting.

But as the result of existing problems in the town centre a Parking Advisory Group had been set up earlier this year to look at the whole issue, she said.

It included councillors, business people and local residents as well as representatives of Suffolk police and English Heritage, which owns the Framlingham Castle car park.

“At certain times people find it difficult to park and we want to find solutions,” she said.

One member of the Parking Advisory Group, who asked not to be named, told the EADT that a reduction in the parking area at the community centre would aggravate existing problems.

“There could be 120-140 extra cars coming in to the town when both the halls are being used. It is a very important issue for local people,” he said.

John Lockyer, Framlingham Community Centre Trust secretary, said: “There has been a misunderstanding about the amount of land allocated.”

Mr Lockyer said the number of spaces had not been made a condition of the planning approval.

Talks were due to take place this week with the diocese and he did not want to comment further.

However, the trust was well aware of the parking situation in the town centre.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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