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THE future vitality of Southwold is at risk from the increasing number of second homes and holiday properties in the town and its shrinking resident population, a new report warns.
The Southwold and Reydon Society says the area faces 'major implications' because of dramatic changes in its housing and population make-up as younger families move away.
The society's report – compiled using a raft of documents including the National Census from 2001, voting registers between 2008 and 2011 and new figures from Waveney District Council – shows that second homes and holiday homes in Southwold now make up about 49pc of its total housing stock and that its adult population has dropped by 27pc over the past 11 years.
Meanwhile, only 8.6pc of Southwold and Reydon's housing is classified as 'social and affordable' which, it says, is 'inadequate provision to meet current needs'.
In their conclusion, the report's five authors say: 'The increase in business holiday lets and in second homes, together with a resultant decline in resident population and shift in population away from families, is a trend which has major implications for the life of both Southwold town itself, but also the wider community of Southwold and Reydon.'
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They add: 'It is not immediately obvious what the community can do to meet these challenges or influence these or other consequences of the housing market. However these challenges underline the need for a joined-up approach to the overall planning of developments and services in Southwold and Reydon.'
The report was prepared by Michael Rowan-Robinson, John Stewart, Tony Evans, Jeanette Radley-Kane and Philp O'Hear in a bid to highlight the communities' housing, education, transport and planning needs.
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In Southwold, the report says, housing figures for 2012 show there are 1,366 potential residential properties with 619, or 49pc, of them being second homes or holiday units – compared to 36pc in 2001.
In Reydon, there are 1,446 potential residential properties, of which 188, or 14pc, are second or holiday homes – well up on 2001's figure of 8pc.
Meanwhile, between 2001 and 2011, the resident adult population of Southwold slumped by 27pc from 1,328 to 974, and in Reydon it fell by 2pc from 2,240 to 2,192.
The number of people aged under 18 in Southwold and Reydon also fell by 28pc over the same period to just 454.
The report concludes that the key challenges for the area include providing sufficient affordable housing – both for sale and for rent – maintaining the sustainability of its two local primary schools, and providing services that meet the changing needs of its ageing resident population.
The society hopes its report will become a 'valuable contribution' to the town plan for Southwold and the parish plan for Reydon and that its findings will be considered by Waveney District and Suffolk County Council when they draw up planning, housing and transport strategies.