Rendlesham: MEP Richard Howitt backs bid to save former gym and theatre for community use

Rendelsham Parish Councillor Carole Brason, MEP Richard Howitt, Parish Councillor Mike Stevenson, Su

Rendelsham Parish Councillor Carole Brason, MEP Richard Howitt, Parish Councillor Mike Stevenson, Suffolk County Councillor Michael Bond and Parish Councillor Dave Rushbrook met to discuss the Neighbourhood Plan and saving the Angel Theatre and Sports Centre on Friday, 19 April. - Credit: Archant

A COMMUNITY’S bid to save a sports centre and theatre from being demolished and replaced by housing has been backed by its local MEP.

Richard Howitt recently met with members of Rendlesham Parish Council.

Developers have handed an application to Suffolk Coastal District Council hoping to build 49 new homes in place of the old Angel Centre and Jets Gym.

However the plans have been strongly opposed by the parish council, which feels the buildings could be saved and turned into viable community and retail facilities - including a cinema, library, children’s centre and cafe.

Mr Howitt said it was important to take the views of local people into account.

“It is clear that local people want to see the community strengthened rather than lose the opportunity to retain and develop the current buildings,” he said. “Suffolk Coastal District Council needs to listen to the strongly held views of the community in Rendlesham when it considers the planning application.

“The plan to retain the sports centre and Angel theatre helps to secure the heart of the village for both retail and community use.

Most Read

“It will act as a focal point for the development of educational, community and leisure activities, and in so doing help encourage local employment and the learning of new skills.”

The parish council’s plans have been outlined in its emerging Neighbourhood Plan. The authority was chosen by the Government as one of the first in the country to start drawing up such a document, which aims to give people more of a say on how their communities should grow in the future.

Heather Heelis, clerk to the parish council, said: “We are delighted to have Mr Howitt’s 100% support. The parish council has now submitted business plans for both buildings and these will now we considered during the decision making process.

“We feel it is vitally important to save these buildings for community use because if they disappear they will be lost forever and the centre of the village will be gone.”

Commenting on the Neighbourhood Plan, she added: “The process has gone brilliantly. We carried out extensive consultation in March and all this is now being analysed, with a view of drafting the document in May or June, which will then be subject to public consultation.”

The application for the 49 homes has been tabled by agents Boyer Planning Ltd on behalf of Walnut Tree Properties Ltd. Boyer Planning Ltd were contacted for comment but did not get back to the EADT by the time of going to press.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter