Southwold Police Station Site update Oct 2020 from Southwold Town Council – the planning application from Suffolk Police Authority to build residential properties on this site has been refused by East Suffolk Council. One of the reasons given for the refusal is that the site has been designated as an Asset of Community Value.
Update Sept 2020
There have been several enquiries about the future of the Police Station site in Southwold. The following response to the Southwold and Reydon Society explains the process and where we are in that process. Please note that the reference in the last sentence to the Society being able to put in a bid for the site applies equally to any other community group who might wish to take this action.
The use of any Asset of Community Value is restricted by Local Plan Policy WLP 8.22 – Built Community Services and Facilities. This states: ‘Proposals that change the use, or redevelop for a non-community use, a facility registered as an asset of community value will be not permitted.’ Paragraph 8.118 defines ‘Community Services and Facilities.’ The LPA’s Policy division has advised the Town Council that affordable housing is not a community use under Policy WLP 8.22.
In securing the police station’s designation as an ACV, the Town Council was required to demonstrate that there is a viable alternative community use, and the example cited was for an environmental learning centre.
As a first step, the Town Council has agreed to fund a scoping study based on the establishment of an environmental learning centre, in order to develop a residual land value. Once a residual land value has been determined, the Town Council can decide on whether to take the next step, which would be to make a bid for the site before the end of the moratorium period on 15 January 2021.
If the Town Council were to be successful in acquiring the land, then other community uses, that do not conflict with Policy 8.22 or the emerging Neighbourhood Plan, could be considered.
The Asset of Community Value law (Localism Act 2011) permits multiple bids from community groups. Therefore, the Southwold and Reydon Society has the option of making its own bid within the time scales set out above.