‘Compromise’ on controversial Southwold enterprise hub plans may be sought
PUBLISHED: 05:30 20 February 2020
A compromise on controversial enterprise hub plans in a Suffolk seaside town may be sought after community leaders clashed at a public meeting.
Southwold town councillors met to debate plans for the town's enterprise hub, also known as the Station Yard Development, which has been earmarked for a site on the corner of Station Road and Blyth Road.
Town councillors originally approved the project back in 2018 in the hope of creating up to 90 new jobs by redeveloping several existing buildings into a £3million business hub - which would include retail spaces, offices and apartments.
However, the move was met by a huge backlash by many residents in Southwold, who argued against demolishing property occupied by several small businesses, including a garage and convenience store.
The business owners set to be affected by the plans said they have not been guaranteed relocation by the town council.
As pressure mounted on the council to alter their plans for the hub, a 'working group' consisting of town councillors and other interested parties was formed to develop alternative proposals for the site.
David Beavan, who has been critical of the council's original plans, said the working group's proposals would be able to accommodate the businesses.
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The meeting to discuss the alternative plans was switched to Southwold's Methodist Church Hall from the usual town hall venue to accommodate the large presence from the public.
During the meeting, town and county councillor Michael Ladd put forward a motion to develop a 'compromise' plan - which could incorporate ideas from the working group's suggestion into the council's original proposals.
Town mayor Ian Bradbury said any alterations to the hub plans should not pose a risk to the council receiving a £995,000 grant from the government's Coastal Communities Fund.
He said: "This is an opportunity for a compromise. There is scope for both sides to get together and thrash something out.
"We're still listening and trying to accommodate."
Mr Beavan added: "We appreciate Michael Ladd's support for the tenants and are open to discussion to see if we can reach a realistic plan that the town can get behind.
"A lot of people liked what we put forward. The town is very much wanting to support to local, existing businesses.
"This is definitely a positive step."