Narrow majority as Southwold town plan gets go-ahead

A community project to help inspire change in Southwold has been given the go-ahead after people narrowly voted in favour of creating a town plan.

The decision came during a meeting on Tuesday night when 62 people backed a scheme which will provide an in-depth study of the town's social, economic and environmental issues.

But concerns were raised when it was revealed the neighbouring village of Reydon would not be included despite the two communities sharing services.

More than 100 people packed St Edmund's Church Hall, Southwold, to hear the presentation and vote on whether or not they wanted a town plan. They heard how the process could cost �8,000, take 18 months to complete, and would provide a document that could be considered by authorities when making key decisions. But some people were unconvinced and called for the town to adopt a neighbourhood plan which would carry statutory powers to influence planning decisions.

Speaking during the meeting, the chairman of the Southwold and Reydon Society, John Stewart, said: 'I would urge that the town plan should be kept as general as possible as to who can and cannot contribute to it.

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'We don't think it makes a lot of sense to have a Southwold plan without working with Reydon and Walberswick.'

Annette Gray, of Suffolk Acre, who gave the presentation on parish plans, told the meeting that people in Reydon had decided to create their own parish plan.

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But this was denied by members of Reydon Parish Council who said they had not made a final decision.

Meanwhile, Mrs Gray reassured people that second-home owners would be contacted.

She said: 'At Suffolk Acre, we have got experience of reaching hard to reach groups like second-home owners.

'There will be 18 months' publicity throughout the process. Throughout that period they may only come back to Southwold a few times a year but they should be looking at the noticeboards, so they will have the chance to complete a questionnaire and send it back by post.'

During the meeting, 17 people volunteered to form a steering group to drive the project by circulating questionnaires and analysing the findings.

The group will also be tasked with creating a budget which will form the basis of a grant application to Awards for All- part of the Big Lottery fund.

Fifty people opposed the plan.

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