Residents petition against controversial enterprise hub plans
PUBLISHED: 06:01 24 November 2019
Petitions have been launched in an attempt to block controversial plans to develop an enterprise hub in a Suffolk seaside town, with residents calling for a vote of no confidence in the council.
The proposals for the Southwold Enterprise Hub, also known as the Station Yard Development project, which would see multiple businesses in the town being demolished.
The project is expected to cost nearly £3million and is part-funded by a £995,000 grant from the Coastal Communities Fund, with work due to start next year.
Southwold Town Council say the plans for the council-owned properties in Station Road, which were green-lit in September 2018, will create up to 90 new jobs, 15 office spaces and retail units.
However, the plans have been met with a furious backlash by the community, who have said the loss of "valued" businesses will have a far more profound effect on the town.
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They also accuse the town councillors, who approved the plans last year, of failing to ensure the affected businesses will be relocated, which they say they were promised.
Town mayor Ian Bradbury said: "No work is going to happen until June 2020. We will have time to try to accommodate the businesses affected, if at all possible."
An online petition, set up by Jonathan Hadgraft, was set up in protest and attracted 250 signatures in the first 24 hours.
Petitions are also in Southwold stores, and call for the town council to pause its plans for the hub project "to allow time for the concerns of the local community to be addressed and to enable alternative options to be considered".
The petition continued: "Many concerns have been raised by the local community regarding the new proposal, including the lack of consultation, question marks over its economic viability and the lack of alternative provision for the existing valued businesses on the site."
Town councillor David Beavan, who opposes the plans, said: "Residents have now called for a vote of no confidence in the council."
Architect John Bennett displayed alternative plans for the site, which would accommodate the businesses, in a public meeting arranged by councillors Simon Flunder and Mr Beavan earlier in November.