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Public meeting held to give an update on Southwold's town plan

PUBLISHED: 11:00 09 June 2015 | UPDATED: 11:00 09 June 2015

Residents pressed town councillors on what it had done to provide more affordable housing for Southwold and strengthen its high street during a public meeting to discuss its town plan.

Around 70 people attended the event in St Edmund’s Hall on Tuesday (June 2) chaired by film producer, director and Southwold resident Jon Blair to talk about the progress made on the aims of the town plan after it was published in October.

The panel, which consisted of town councillors Will Windell, Ian Bradbury and Michael Ladd, discussed issues including the economy, housing and the environment.

While the town plan was described as a “wish list”, Mr Bradbury said the town council’s powers were limited in certain areas.

“There are many many issues surrounding this,” he said. “Many of which the town council hasn’t got very much control, but has some influence over.”

As an example, he said the town council was “taking active steps to extend the High Street”.

Mr Ladd pointed to the butchers in the Market Place, a property owned by the town council. When the lease came up for renewal, the council decided it should remain a butchers.

“We could have actually got more substantial rent from it by renting it out to some coffee chain, but we stuck to our guns,” he said.

Mr Bradbury added that the council’s planning and development committee was “vociferous” in its response to applications, although Waveney District Council has the final say.

On housing, Mr Windell said affordable rented accomodation was the way forward for Southwold.

A high proportion of respondants to the town plan said they wanted to see a gym or a pool, and councillors said while they did not have the money or the space to provide such facilities, they had installed outdoor gym equipment for public use.

Mr Windell said the council was also in the process of taking back a number of assets including the Harbour Lands and that the council had regular meetings with the Enviroment Agency and other groups on conservation issues and Mr Ladd reminded the audience Southwold beach had just been awarded a blue flag.

Mr Windell also said the town council had stopped buses and coaches going straight onto the high street, while Mr Ladd said that a ‘complete’ review of traffic had been commissioned, and that a “radical solution”, such as one-way systems, might be needed.

■ What do you think should be the priorities for Southwold’s future? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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