Framlingham to revisit controversial Brook Lane option among two preferred sites for new community centre

The previous proposals for a community centre in Brook Lane, Framlingham. Picture: HOLLINS

The previous proposals for a community centre in Brook Lane, Framlingham. Picture: HOLLINS - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk town’s latest efforts to create a community centre have been narrowed down to two preferred site options – including a fresh look at a previously controversial location.

Framlingham Town Council had been looking at five options for the new building’s location after its preferred £1.6m proposal for a site between Brook Lane and Vyces Road was met with opposition from people living nearby.

The town has seen six failed attempts for a new community centre since the turn of the century. The most recent setback happened last year when residents voiced concerns, during a public meeting, about the size of the proposed centre and the noise and traffic problems they envisaged it would bring.

Since then, the council’s infrastructure plan committee has been looking at a range of other locations as well as possible revisions to the Brook Lane site, which is owned by the Mills Charity and had been offered for a “peppercorn rent”.

At the latest meeting, committee chairman John Jones told councillors the options had now been “narrowed down” to two, including a revised look at the Brook Lane site.

Although Mr Jones said he could not discuss the other site, due to commercial sensitivity issues, the four alternatives his committee had been investigating were: Framlingham Sports Centre; Thomas Mills High School; existing sites, such as the library; and potential new sites not previously considered.

Mr Jones said it was important the council looked again at the Brook Lane site as a comparison, if nothing else.

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“I think we have to answer the criticisms raised by the public and revaluate this site,” he added.

Councillor Spadge Hopkins was keen to state on the record that the council’s inclusion of Brook Lane did not imply any preference.

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“By voting for this we are not giving the message that we are prioritising Brook Lane,” he added.

The council agreed to spend £1,500 on “redesign discussions and preparation of a revised plan for the Brook Lane site”.

At December’s town council meeting, chairman Gary Kitching said a preferred site would need to be chosen by April in order to meet application deadlines for Community Infrastructure Levy funding.

“That will give us time to put together a case,” he added.

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