Fears police station redevelopment could lead to more second homes
- Credit: Archant
Fears are being voiced that redevelopment plans for Southwold police station could result in more holiday homes instead of the badly needed affordable housing the town needs.
Suffolk Constabulary is seeking permission to demolish Southwold police station and build nine new homes at the site in Blyth Road, comprising of three terraced homes and six flats.
However, town councillor David Beavan feared the location and price of the station would mean the site would be marketed to potential investors in second homes.
Mr Beavan said: "At 60%, we have the highest number of holiday homes in the country. We have enough now.
"Our population has halved to 800 in the last 20 years.
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"This is the last affordable housing development site in the town - otherwise, it is floodplain or the sea."
In December, Suffolk Constabulary submitted an outline planning application to East Suffolk Council for the police station, which is still operational but not open to the public.
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Planning documents propose building nine homes at the site, which was also formerly home to Southwold's fire station but has since relocated to neighbouring Reydon.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk police and crime commissioner, defended the move, saying: "The sale provides potential developers with some degree of certainty and enables me to secure the best possible price for the site, which I'm statutorily required to do."
In a council meeting, Southwold Town Council opposed the plans to build homes at the site, highlighting that none of the houses or flats would be affordable.
Councillor Jessica Jeans said: "The town council would like to see police station continuing to be used for community benefit - with the remainder of the site providing affordable housing."
Though planning documents make no reference to the houses and flats being sold as second homes, Mr Beavan insisted planners had purposely proposed building nine homes so that none have to be affordable.
Council guidelines state that at least a third of new homes must be affordable in developments of ten or more.
Mr Beavan added: "This is a smart move by the commissioner. They have applied for only nine homes - one more and they would have to make some affordable.
"They have sneaked this in just before we plan to ban new holiday homes in our neighbourhood plan later this year.
"This ill-thought out plan has been cobbled together to beat the ban.
"We need affordable homes for the people that live here."
Mr Beavan wanted to encourage Southwold residents objecting to potential plans for second homes to comment on the East Suffolk Council website.