New vision for coastal town unveiled as Draft Neighbourhood Plan is launched

Southwold Picture: James Bass

Southwold Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

It is the culmination of almost five years of hard work.

Michael Rowan Robinson, mayor of Southwold

Michael Rowan Robinson, mayor of Southwold - Credit: Archant

And dreams are closer to becoming reality as one of the region's most popular tourist destinations launches its Draft Neighbourhood Plan for consultation.

The Southwold Neighbourhood Plan 'contains a vision for the future' of the town as it 'sets out clear planning policies to realise this vision.'

The blueprint, which outlines 'the challenges for Southwold' over the next 20 years, has been unveiled – with second home ownership, tourism and the character of Southwold High Street among the key areas in 10 policies that have been developed.

Town mayor Michael Rowan-Robinson, who is chairman of the Southwold Neighbourhood Plan Working Group, said they had been working on the draft plan for for more than four years.

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He said: 'We have consulted widely with the community through drop-in sessions, focus groups and questionnaires.

'The plan contains a vision for the future of Southwold and sets out clear planning policies to realise this vision.'

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With the principal purpose of the Neighbourhood Plan 'to guide development within the town,' the policies were drawn up using the responses to the town questionnaire distributed in 2016, along with consultations with businesses and locals.

Mr Rowan-Robinson said: 'It is a great moment for the town.

'We have been working on this all this time and we're very proud to get to where we are.

'We now want your thoughts on the plan so that these can be taken into account before the final version is voted on in a local referendum next year.'

The draft plan states that in recent years, 'Southwold has seen a decline in the number of independent businesses and an increase in national chains,' so the plan has a policy that makes it harder to increase the floor area of a unit above 150 square metres, 'seeking to tilt the balance back from national chains towards independent retailers.'

With a drop-in event on the Neighbourhood Plan being held on Monday, October 22 between 6pm and 9pm, at the Millennium Hall, Mr Rowan-Robinson added: 'Please come along on Monday to see the plan and tell us what you think about it. The neighbourhood plan working group will be there along with some councillors and you will be able to browse copies of the full plan, plus appendices.'

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