Planning & Housing

The Society is very active on planning and housing issues, responding to proposed new developments, working to safeguard the character of Southwold and Reydon, and Southwold's unique High Street.

In 2009 the Southwold and Reydon Society developed a Planning Manifesto for Southwold and Reydon, outlining the principles that the Society believes should be applied in local planning developments. Many of these principles have been incorporated into the Southwold Town Plan and the Reydon Village Plan, to which the Society contributed significantly.

Recently there have been a number of applications for developments in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which is meant to protect the countryside surrounding Southwold and Reydon. In 2015, we successfully objected to plans to extend Reydon Business Park into the adjacent field at Reydon Smere, attending an appeal hearing which upheld the rejection by Waveney District Council (WDC). WDC also agreed to reject a plan for a new house near Wolsey Bridge. However, more recently, WDC has agreed in principle to allow a major development of 69 houses on a playing field next to St George's Square which has been proposed by St Felix School. A local pressure group, RAGE (Reydon Action Group for the Environment) is campaigning to overturn this decision which we continue to oppose.

Another threat to the AONB has emerged recently in the draft Mineral and Waste Plan from Suffolk County Council. This proposes a new gravel pit in Reydon to the east of Mardle Road, just north of Lime Kiln Farm. The operators of the nearly exhausted gravel works in Wangford are seeking to extend their operation across Mardle Road and into an area of Reydon close to the Hen Reedbeds. They say that this site contains some of the best gravel in Suffolk and would be justified by the national requirement for building materials. However, the draft Suffolk Plan would provide more gravel than the need which the planners forecast and the Reydon gravel pit is the only one proposed which is in the AONB. We have said that this is an unnecessary and wholly inappropriate proposal which would leave a permanently altered landscape and destroy a breeding ground of endangered curlews. If Suffolk continue to include this scheme in the second draft of their plan, we will continue to oppose it and ensure that the case against is heard loudly and clearly at the subsequent public hearing before the plan is agreed by a Planning Inspector. 

In our view, development in the AONB can only be allowed where it results from amendments to the Local Plan which sets the framework for future development to meet the needs for housing and employment of the local community. Currently, WDC are preparing a new Local Plan for the next twenty years. This proposes new housing in Reydon on a countryside site west of Copperwheat Avenue. We have raised concerns about the scale of the proposal which is for 250 houses but accepted that some expansion will be needed and agreed that development in this location could be an acceptable extension of the village if well designed and landscaped.

We also supported the use of a current policy to extend the boundary of the built area of Reydon at Green Lane for the development of 23 units of affordable housing, 17 for rent from Orbit Housing Association and 6 for shared ownership. Such housing is essential to meet the needs of local families and those working here who are priced out of the commercial housing market.

Where we can, we also engage with developers over major applications to try to achieve development that enhances our community. One recent examples is the new housing in Station Road, either side of North Road, a site that has been derelict since the demise of the former garage business. We met the developers and encouraged them to produce an attractive and well-proportioned scheme (as did Southwold Town Council). We think, as a result, that the scheme now under construction will be the first stage of creating an attractive new entrance to Southwold - something we have campaigned to achieve.

Finally, we have also supported and engaged with the community group who have now acquired and gained planning permission to develop the former Southwold Hospital site for a mix of housing, business and community uses. This will enhance the appearance of the main building and bring welcome new facilities, including some affordable housing, into the heart of the town.

Housing

In 2010 the Society recognised that it needed to establish some basic facts about housing and set up a group, under the chairmanship of Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson. It produced a detailed report in 2011 and this was updated in 2012 to reflect the latest changes and trends, available here.

The report covers the various categories of houses -occupied, vacant, second homes, holiday lets, and social housing (Local Authority rental, housing associations, housing charities) in Southwold and Reydon. It also looks at population figures.

In terms of the resident adult population it shows a decline of 27% in Southwold from 1328 in 2001 to 974 in 2011. Over the same period in Reydon the decline was much smaller - from 2240 in 2001 to 2192 in 2011 - a fall of 2 %.

Alongside the decline in the resident population there has been a big increase in the number of second homes and holiday lets. In Southwold 49% of all homes now fall into this category - up from 36% in 2001. In Reydon 14 % properties are either holiday lets or second homes.

This obviously puts pressure on those residents seeking to live and work in Southwold. Currently social housing in Southwold comprises 94 units, and 148 in Reydon - 8.6% of the total housing stock. The Society believes there is a need to expand the social and affordable home provision in Southwold and Reydon.

Now, in 2018, it is clear all these trends have continued. Recently built or redeveloped houses, as well as older ones, continue to become second homes or holiday let premises in both Southwold and Reydon. As many as 60% of houses in Southwold have no permanent residents. Those working locally, mainly in retail, hospitality, social care, building, fishing and boatbuilding, are priced out of the housing market. If these trends continue unchecked, we believe our communities will become unbalanced and unsustainable.

We have therefore lobbied for, and supported, the provision of new affordable housing with priority given to those with a local connection through residence, family links or work. We are very glad to see some significant progress on this front. 20 new units of affordable housing are being built at Duncan's Yard in Southwold on a brownfield site formerly occupied by a local building firm. 23 more, including 6 shared ownership, are to be built at Green Lane in Reydon and the Southwold Hospital scheme includes another 4.

We will also support any realistic measures proposed in the Neighbourhood Plans for Southwold and Reydon (both of which are being developed by the respective Town and Parish Council) to limit further development of second home and holiday let dwellings.