Southwold £3m hub to be inspected due to contamination fears
- Credit: Archant
Community leaders in Southwold are to appoint a demolition contractor to assess the condition of a site where a £3million business hub is set to be built.
Southwold Town Council is aiming to create the hub, also known as the Station Yard Development, by revamping several council-owned buildings on the corner of Station Road and Blyth Road, opposite the police station.
Councillors hope to build retail units, office spaces and a café in a bid to attract more investment to the coastal town.
The proposals were approved by town councillors back in 2018 and are being supported through a grant of £995,000 from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund.
But the scheme has proved controversial with many of the town’s residents, as several businesses at the site, including a garage, have relocated due to the proposals.
There are also concerns over potential contamination of the site as it was previously used as a petrol station - with large tankers stored underground.
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In response to those fears, councillors agreed on Tuesday to appoint a demolition contractor to survey the buildings on the land.
Recently-appointed town mayor Will Windell confirmed the council will be pressing ahead with the plans to build the hub and revealed construction work is set to start before March next year.
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He said: "The position we are in now is that when the demolition is completed then the contamination surveys can be completed. With the buildings down, we will know the condition of the site.
"At the end of the day, you can't keep old buildings up for health and safety problems. My view has always been that we have a duty of care to decontaminate the land.
"We want to create an employment hub for businesses. The research we have done is that people still do want to go into offices, despite Covid.
"We had a bit of a scare because of Covid, but as long as we start building by March next year, we have had assurances we will still get the money.
"Once people realise the project is going ahead, there will be a lot of interest."