2020-21 is likely to prove as busy for Southwold and Reydon as the last few years and, clearly , the more members the Society has, the more your say can be heard.
Current issues include:
Current issues include:
- the management and maintenance of the harbour and estuary. We continue to press for an effective overall strategy to keep the estuary in its current shape and able to deal with storm surges and to maintain a working harbour with a mix of leisure and commercial users with strong and independent local governance. Along with others, we pressed for independent management of the harbour and are pleased that this has now been agreed by East Suffolk Council. We will carefully monitor the implementation of what has been agreed. It will be important that the Management Committee is made up of people with the required skills and that the Stakeholder Advisory Group is given real influence.
- Along with Reydon Parish Council, we successfully asked for rejection of the plan for a new gravel pit in Reydon, east of Mardle Road and close to the Hen Reedbeds. This proposal was part of a draft mineral strategy developed by Suffolk County Council and was the only new quarry proposed in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We continued to object when the plan reappeared in the next draft of the strategy and presented our case to the Planning Inspector when the mineral strategy was examined in public. We were delighted when the Inspector upheld our arguments and the proposal was deleted from the final plan. We will remain vigilant and oppose any other moves by Cemex, the operator of the now exhausted Wangford Gravel Pit, to try to revive their Reydon project.
- Health care organisational issues, which have changed the management of our local Out of Hospital Team and link our Sole Bay GP practice with that of Bungay. We continue to engage with our doctors, the South Waveney Primary Care Network (our local part of the enlarged Clinical Commissioning Group for Norfolk and Waveney) and East Coast Community Health who are the major provider of non-GP Community services locally to monitor these changes and press hard for solutions where there are any gaps in outcomes for patients. To date, these changes, together with the work of our outstanding GP surgery, give us a very good local health service.
- St Felix proposed housing development of 69 houses on one of their playing fields which we continue to oppose as a major development in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If it goes ahead, which now seems very likely as it has gained outline Planning Permission, we will campaign to limit the damage to the last undeveloped parts of Reydon Common and characteristic features of Suffolk estuary valleys. In July 2020, St Felix submitted the required planning application for replacement playing fields. Sadly, this is neither an adequate replacement for what is lost nor does it avoid a negative impact on the St Felix County Wildlife site. We will, therefore, oppose this application, without which the housing proposal will also be prevented.
- Southwold High Street, where we are working with the traders where we can and also through our participation in the Coastal Community Team to help maintain and, after lockdown, revive our shopping centre where the mix of independent shops and some national retailers is a key attraction. Both have been threatened in recent years by unsustainable rises in rents and rates. We are very pleased that Coastal Community Funding has allowed the appointment of a Town Centre Development Manager and we will do what we can to support her work. Pleasingly this will include support for the Arts Centre which has been hit badly by the recent lockdown.
- Gateway to Southwold: for several years, we have lobbied for a coherent approach to the redevelopment of the various vacant sites at the entrance to Southwold. Sadly, development has begun piecemeal with the rather harsh new buidings either side of North Road. There remains an opportunity to redevelop the former police station and fire station sites. We are pleased that Southwold Town Council has secured Community Asset status for the police station site and hope that they can create a partnership, possibly with a Housing Association, to redevelop both sites with a good deal of affordable housing. The Town Council has also won major funding from the Coastal Community Fund to help redevelop its own site at Station Yard. However, we have urged the Council to re-think its plans for this development which will replace the current workshops with offices. We are concerned that these will not be in demand and thus not generate the intended income nor help diversify the local economy. So far, the Town Council is determined to push ahead despite these concerns.
- We monitor all planning applications and ask for change or rejection of those which fail to preserve or improve the amenity of our community. We also support those which represent improvements such as the Southwold Hospital scheme or the recently completed new affordable housing in Green Lane, Reydon.
- Waveney Local Plan: we responded at every stage to the consultations on a new plan for the Waveney area of East Suffolk which will see major development in Reydon - of 220 houses west of Copperwheat Avenue. On balance, we accepted this scheme but will work hard with both planners and developers to ensure that it fits in as well as possible with its surrounding countryside. Several of our Committee are heavily involved in the work to create a Neighbourhood plan for Reydon which will strengthen the local voice in shaping future development. Sadly, the work on the Reydon Neighbourhood Plan was not far enough advanced when the Planning Application for Copperwheat was determined in early 2020 so we were unable to persuade the East Suffolk Planning Committee to apply the Principal Residence policy to the market housing in this development. This policy will require all new housing in Reydon to be occupied as a principal or main residence and is aimed at limiting the rise in the proportion of second homes in Reydon which is now at 25%, having risen to 60% in Southwold.
- We are tracking the plans for new wind farms off the coast of Southwold. Whilst we support green energy, we want to limit any loss of open sea views which are part of the town's attraction and damage to the local environment by the inland infrastructure that is proposed. We recognize, too, that the new nuclear plant at Sizewell C will also reduce national dependence on fossil fuels but are concerned that the plans to reduce the negative impacts of the transport of materials and other effects of the construction phase are not adequate. We will press for this to change.
- We also think the "parking monster" may well rear its head again this year as plans emerge from the various local authorities responsible. We will press for adequate parking for residents and workers in our community and also for shoppers using the High Street.