Fresh ideas welcomed for police station revamp project
- Credit: Archant
Community leaders in Southwold are encouraging residents to suggest new uses for the town’s police station after it was listed as an asset of community value (ACV).
Southwold Town Council is welcoming fresh ideas for the station, which Suffolk Constabulary is looking to sell after it was deemed surplus to requirements.
Stores, a community centre and a museum are some of the suggestions that have been mooted as councillors seek to revamp the site for the benefit of the town’s residents.
Suffolk Constabulary submitted proposals to East Suffolk Council last year to demolish Southwold police station, in Blyth Road, and build three terraced homes and a complex of six flats in its place.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, said the plans would provide housing developers with “some degree of certainty” and would allow the police to secure the “best possible price” for the station, which is surplus to operational requirements.
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The proposals sparked concern among community leaders, who feared the houses and flats would be marketed to second homeowners.
However, Suffolk Constabulary’s plans for the station were blocked in April when Southwold Town Council successfully proved there was a “reasonable prospect” of the site being used by residents in the future and it was listed as an ACV.
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Councillors have now agreed to express a non-binding interest to purchase, triggering a four-and-a-half month moratorium when the police, as landowners, cannot sell the site.
By making the agreement, the town council has enabled any interested community group to be able prepare a bid and raise funds to join the bidding process.
At the end of the moratorium, which expires in January next year, the landowner can decide who they wish to sell the station to and for how much.
Lesley Beevor, clerk to Southwold Town Council, said: “The bid for the asset has to be for community use – ‘to further the social wellbeing or social interest of the local community’.
“Examples of assets that might be defined as having ‘community value’ include sport and leisure centres, libraries, theatres, museums, community centres, town halls, a shop, a market or a pub.
“All are subject to relevant planning legislation, which may or may not permit a change of use on the asset.”