Community centre plans ‘not dead’ - despite latest setback
PUBLISHED: 12:22 05 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:24 05 August 2018
A Suffolk’s town’s troubled attempts to provide a new community centre are “not dead” – despite the latest in a long line of set backs.
Framlingham Town Council decided in June not to proceed with either of two options for the new building, after councillors claimed the issue had become “too divisive” and costly.
The proposals for either Brook Lane or Framlingham Sports Club had been arrived at following months of work – but each faced difficulties the council felt could not be overcome.
Speaking at the council’s latest meeting on Thursday, councillor David Beal questioned why the council had not done more to explain its actions, having taking such a “momentous decision”.
Mr Beal said it appeared the council had its “head in the sand” over the issue.
“The biggest decision that we’ve made in the past few years, has not been mentioned,” he added.
Several councillors defended the process, saying the decision had been taken at a public meeting and had also featured in the council’s monthly newsletter.
Deputy chairman Simon Garrett said that although the council had decided not to apply for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to fund the community centre options, the project itself not been rejected. “The community centre is still on our list of priorities, it’s part of the neighbourhood plan,” he added.
Council chairman Gary Kitching, who announced later in the meeting that he was stepping down from the role, also insisted the project would continue.
“I don’t see this as a dead issue,” he said. “I see it as still part of the strategic plan,”
The proposals, thought to be Framlingham’s sixth attempt at a new community centre in the past 20 years, had first sought to utilise CIL money and the offer of the Brook Lane site at “peppercorn rent” from the Mills Charity.
Opposition from people living in the Brook Lane area, however, saw a working group created to find ways to overcome their objections, while investigating the possibility of other sites.
Although the council decided not to pursue CIL funding for either of the community centre proposals in June, a separate, smaller project to replace St Michael’s Rooms remains on the table.
The council agreed on Thursday to fund a bat survey to further develop those plans.