The Old Bakehouse Store in Southwold home to Cornucopia antiques could have been saved if safeguards were in place
CONTROVERSIAL proposals to turn a Southwold antique shop into a home could have been blocked if key planning safeguards had been put in place, town councillors heard this week.
Members of Southwold Town Council admitted they should have paid closer attention to the boundary of a 'commercial zone' that protects businesses within it before it was agreed by Waveney District Council.
Councillors were discussing a decision by Waveney planning officers to allow the Old Bakehouse Store on Blackmill Road to be transformed into a new house, despite strong opposition in Southwold.
The move is likely to lead to a loss of seven jobs and the closure of Cornucopia antiques, which occupies the property. But the district council has defended its decision to approve the application, saying the property was not protected from conversion to a home because it did not fall within the town's commercial zone.
Speaking at Tuesday night's town council meeting, Michael Ladd said: 'When I saw this decision I thought it was ludicrous, but when you look at the map the shop is open to all sorts of policies.
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'How we missed this I don't know but as a council we must apologise for that.'
He added: 'I think there is a good case for sitting down with Waveney District Council and determining the zones so when we do put recommendations to them they take them on board.'
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The commercial zone was drawn up by Waveney to ensure that Southwold town centre remained a thriving retail area. Applications for a changes of use to properties within the area are restricted.
However, Southwold's boundary covers the High Street up to Pinkney's Lane – missing out Blackmill Road.
The town council is now calling for the boundary to be reviewed to provide further protection to town centre shops, as businesses such as Adnams' Cellar and Kitchen store, Serendipity of Southwold and Craft Co also fall outside it. The council may also send a letter to the district council asking why its call to reject the application was overruled.
Sue Allen said: 'The zone came up within the Waveney Local Development Framework. In early 2010 Southwold Town Council was asked for their comments and we never made any.
'I think the message is that we should have looked at things a bit more carefully then we did.'
The plans for the Old Bakehouse Store, approved under delegated powers, had been met with objections from residents, traders and Southwold Town Council, which stated there was no evidence to suggest it could not still operate as a business.
Simon Tobin added: 'Recently we have had a few recommendations over turned. I think we should consider sending a letter to Waveney District Council. We want to make sure we are taken seriously as a council through our proposals.'
•Southwold Town Council's new web site will go live on Monday. Visit southwoldtowncouncil.com.