Assurances over £3m Station Yard project in Southwold
- Credit: Archant
Community leaders in Southwold have insisted that £3million plans to build new office and retail units at a business hub in the town are still "going forward".
Southwold Town Council’s scheme to create the hub, also known as the Station Yard Development, would involve revamping several council-owned buildings on the corner of Station Road and Blyth Road.
The site is set for a major transformation that would replace the buildings in a scheme that councillors have said could create up to 90 jobs.
The project was approved by the town council back in 2018.
In September 2019, Southwold Town Council secured a grant of £995,000 from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund to help pay for the redevelopment.
The scheme has proved controversial with many of the town’s residents, as the revamp would force several businesses at the site, including a garage, to relocate.
Town and district councillor David Beavan said the recent election of two new members to the town council demonstrated the community's opposition to the scheme.
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He said: "To press ahead with demolition in the teeth of local opposition, and despite professional concern about the viability of their office hub vanity project, would be a serious act of financial negligence by the council."
The Southwold and Reydon Society has also outlined its opposition to the plans and called for any demolition work on the project to be paused.
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The society has said the council's business plan for the site is "unviable" and urged community leaders to reconsider alternative proposals.
Ian Bradbury, town mayor, defended the proposals and said the government cash had to be spent within a set timeframe.
He said: "I'm very much looking forward to hearing the views of the new councillors. I'm trusting they will have appraised the situation.
"This project is going forward slowly - it's still got momentum. We have a time scale that we are working towards that gets knocked back every few weeks.
"We have got to spend the grant money by April 2022. At this moment, Southwold Town Council has not drawn the grant money of up to £1m.
"It will only be done once we are certain the project is going ahead.
"I think we have got a strong project board and have a financial hold on things."