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PD James opposes Southwold plans

PUBLISHED: 06:19 04 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:21 05 July 2010

PD James

PD James

One of the nation's most celebrated authors has added her voice to the growing throng of opposition against proposals for a new housing development opposite her much-loved second home in Southwold.

An artist's impression of plans for the stables site

One of the nation's most celebrated authors has added her voice to the growing throng of opposition against proposals for a new housing development opposite her much-loved second home in Southwold.

Crime writer P.D. James, who frequently visits her house in the popular seaside resort, has spoken out against plans which have been tabled to redevelop the former Adnams stables and Child's foundry in the town centre.

A scheme has been drawn up by Suffolk-based developer Hopkins and Moore to transform the derelict foundry site, between Market Place and Mill Lane, into two houses, four apartments, a café and an arcade of nine retail units.

Baroness James, best known for writing the series of thrillers featuring New Scotland Yard investigator Alex Dalgliesh, has joined Southwold Town Council in objecting to the proposals, which she said are out of keeping with the town.

“We do accept of course that the site has to be developed, but the proposal that has been put forward is an abomination. It is not in keeping with the character of the site, which is really a very important site historically.

“One of the problems will be the access from Mill Lane, which will be impossible. In the summer, families walk along there to town along the edge of the common - this access would be disastrous. Lorries already have to back into Mill Lane to turn around,” she said.

The 88-year-old, who was made a life peer of the House of Lords in 1991, has already written a formal letter of objection to Waveney District Council, whose development control committee is likely to consider the proposals in the spring.

She added: “This is an opportunity for a sensitive development which would be an asset to the town. It could be absolutely beautiful. My house is used a great deal by my family and friends, and we all care about Southwold very much.

“The little town is beloved beyond Suffolk. This is a unique site in a truly unique town and whatever is done with it will last for a long time, so it should be worthy of the town.”

Robert Eburne, planning manager for Hopkins and Moore, said that the derelict foundry buildings would be demolished because they are not structurally sound, but the stables buildings would be retained.

He said: “There has been enormous interest locally in the proposals. The consultation exercise has produced some very good points, which will be discussed with the district council and nearby residents as we agree a way forward for these sensitive sites.

“From our consultation with the district council, they view the two sites as very much an extension to the town centre and the proposals reflect this thinking, with commercial and residential uses.”

He said that the retail units will only be a small extension to the town's main shopping area and they will be carefully managed for low-key use.

“By breathing new life into the buildings, we hope they will add to the vitality of this important part of the town,” he added.

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