Exclusive town 'being exploited'
RESIDENTS in Southwold are to hold an open meeting to air concerns about what they believe to be the “exploitation” of the town.Jack Storer, of Park Lane, Southwold, wrote a letter signed by 36 fellow residents to the town council asking for a meeting to express their views about proposed developments in the town.
RESIDENTS in Southwold are to hold an open meeting to air concerns about what they believe to be the “exploitation” of the town.
Jack Storer, of Park Lane, Southwold, wrote a letter signed by 36 fellow residents to the town council asking for a meeting to express their views about proposed developments in the town.
The public meeting, called The Changing Face of Southwold, will be held on Friday at 7pm at St Edmund's Hall, and will be chaired by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer.
In his letter, Mr Storer said: “Like many other long standing residents, I am greatly concerned at the growing exploitation of the town by commercial interest.”
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He said this was resulting in the transition of Southwold from a fine small country town to an “overcrowded, over-developed town of holiday and second homes”.
“Southwold is becoming looked upon as a “pot of gold” to be exploited,” he added.
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He also addressed the issues about plans for the development of the Adnams site, the former Southwold Service Station and the Pier Pavillion.
“The 'face' of Southwold will change beyond all recognition and every one of these projects will generate traffic and add to the major problem of traffic congestion,” he said.
The pensioner, who first came to the picturesque seaside resort in 1919, said when he bought his house in 1976 the resident population of Southwold was 1,720 and now it is around 1,200.
“At that rate of wastage it will soon be a ghost town,” he said.
Pier owner Stephen Bournes, who has just submitted a fresh planning application to put in accommodation at the site, said: “What they've got to remember is that I've been here for 20 years and I understand and have a great love of Southwold.
“It's sad when things change but I don't see it as a death but a rebirth for securing family values and seaside trips and that's what the town is about.”
Emma Hibbert, spokesperson for Adnams, said: “From our point of view, the planning application for the Victoria Road development has been given consent and we did have quite a bit of consultation in the lead up to that being given.”
She also said the company had done a lot to ease the congestion in the town.
“When we moved to the new distribution centre we cut a lot of traffic coming into the town because there were up to 200 vehicles coming in before,” she said.
James Ellis, of letting agency Suffolk Secrets, said a distinction needed to be made between holiday homes and second homes because holiday homes were used all year round and brought wealth and business to the local economy.
He said: “Any community needs a good balance and having a provision of homes for local people, particularly affordable housing, and also the amenities for local people and for holidaymakers is something the local authorities are trying to address.
“Tourism is a very important part of any economy and certainly in the eastern region it brings in billions of pounds and is a large part of the community but a balance does need to be met.”
The council has invited corporate directors and members from the planning department at Waveney District Council and a representative from Suffolk County Council to attend the meeting.
Jenny Hursell, Southwold Town Council clerk, said: “The council wants something to come out of this meeting and some solutions have got to come out but we don't know what they are.”