Homes development plan for police station blocked
PUBLISHED: 05:31 30 April 2020
Plans to demolish a police station in a Suffolk seaside town to make way for flats and houses have been blocked after councillors successfully listed the site as an asset of community value (ACV).
Suffolk Constabulary submitted proposals to build a development of three homes and six flats at Southwold Police Station, in Blyth Road, in December last year.
But Southwold Town Council’s application to list the property as an ACV has been approved by East Suffolk Council - meaning the police will not be able to change the use of the site.
Several councillors had feared the houses and flats would be marketed as second homes if they had been built.
Jessica Jeans, chair of the town council’s planning committee, said: “Our experience has been that when market housing is built, over 95% ends up being occupied as second homes or holiday lets. “Southwold cannot afford more of the same.”
The site occupied by the police station, which Suffolk Constabulary said is surplus to requirements, was originally home to Southwold’s railway station between 1879 and 1929.
In December, the police submitted plans to demolish the current building and construct a terrace of three homes, a flats complex and space for 14 cars in a new courtyard.
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But the proposals raised fears the development would attract more second homeowners to Southwold, with town and district councillor David Beavan arguing homes need to be built “for the people that live here”.
Following a January meeting, Southwold town councillors unanimously agreed to oppose the police’s application as it would infringe on the council’s forthcoming neighbourhood plan.
The council have argued the site would be more suitable if it were to be used by the community.
The police station was listed as an ACV after Southwold Town Council successfully proved there was a “reasonable prospect” of the site being used by residents in the future.
The Geography Fieldwork Academy, which is based in Southwold, are believed to be interested in utilising the site.
Ian Bradbury, Southwold town mayor, added: “Within all the suffering and uncertainty created by the Covid-19 crisis, we have not stopped working on long term projects to regenerate the town.
“This gives us hope that the site will eventually be developed in a way that will grow employment for young people in our area, so they don’t have to move away to find meaningful work.”
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