New neighbourhood plan takes aim at holiday homes

Plans to convert the site of Southwold police station into homes has been refused Picture: ARCHANT

The former Southwold police station site is one location that Cllr David Beavan would like to see developed for new homes Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A new neighbourhood plan has been welcomed as a step towards addressing a high number of holiday lets and a lack of affordable housing in a popular seaside resort. 

The Southwold document - approved by a majority of residents in a referendum this month - seeks solutions to a decline in the affordability of homes in the town and a rise in the number of holiday lets that has led to only 40% of properties being lived in by full-time residents. 

The plans are due to be discussed by East Suffolk Council at a meeting on Wednesday, February 23.

Councillor David Beavan, who represents Southwold on the district council, said he supported the proposals and wanted the Southwold Town Council to help by ensuring any housing it lets is at affordable rents. 

David Beavan on Southwold seafront. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

David Beavan on Southwold seafront. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Mr Beavan, who also sits on the town council, accused the representative body of being "hypocritical" by putting a property on the rental market at a rate of £800 a month when local housing benefits only amounted to £500 a month. 

He said: “Holiday lets have really got to be stopped. It is becoming an existential crisis. The local plan is good, but the town council needs to act as if it is looking after locals by renting at affordable rents.” 

Southwold has a high number of people who own second homes

Southwold has a high number of people who own second homes - Credit: Archant

Planning authorities had a significant role to play, he added, by ensuring that any homeowners who wanted to let their properties had to apply for a change of use, which would enable restrictions to be put in place preventing them being let for holiday use. 

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“There is a real affordable housing crisis that is testing everything on the ground. Why should we have everyone living in Lowestoft to be bussed back to clean toilets here?” Mr Beavan added. 

One suggestion contained in the neighbourhood plan is the creation of Community-Led Housing projects (CLH) funded through grants, loans, gifts and crowdfunding, among other sources, to provide affordable housing. 

A lack of suitable land for development was also highlighted in the document, with any new development being restricted to brownfield land. 

Mr Beavan identified the police station site in Blyth Road, which is being sold and the former fire station land in Station Road as two possible development locations.