At the request of Southwold Town Council, East Suffolk District Council has designated the Southwold Police Station as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). The Town Council requested ACV status for police station after learning of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s decision to seek outline planning permission to develop the site with nine market dwellings.
Town Mayor Ian Bradbury said, “Within all the suffering and uncertainty created by the Covid crisis, the Town Council has not stopped working on its long term projects to regenerate the town. Hastoe Housing Association advises that it will shortly be submitting a planning application to build affordable housing on the fire station site. Obtaining ACV designation for the police station gives us hope that this site will eventually be developed in a way that will grow employment for young people in our area so they don’t have to move away to find meaningful work. It feels as if there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
At a special meeting held on 7 January 2020, the Town Council unanimously voted to oppose the application which would undermine the Town’s emerging Neighbourhood Plan. This calls for the police station site to be used for affordable housing or community facilities.
Cllr Jessica Jeans, the Chair of the Town Council’s Planning and Development Committee, said, “The Town Council was determined to defeat this application because our experience has been that when market housing is built, over 95% ends up being occupied as second homes or holiday lets, and, with 60% of our dwellings empty much of the year, Southwold cannot afford more of the same. We studied the planning policies carefully to figure out the best grounds for opposition. The new Waveney Local Plan has a strong built community facilities policy that gives special protection for sites designated as ACVs. Once land has ACV status, its owner cannot obtain a change of use. So, over a weekend, we went into high gear, and wrote the ACV application. Now if the PCC still wants to sell the site, this will have to be to a purchaser who wants to use it for community purposes and the land will have to be priced at a value that reflects its existing use. This is much less than the value of the land if it had planning permission for residential development.”