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Framlingham Community Centre proposals are met with fierce opposition during public meeting

PUBLISHED: 13:01 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:01 12 October 2017

A computer image of what Framlingham's new community centre could look like. Picture: HOLLINS

A computer image of what Framlingham's new community centre could look like. Picture: HOLLINS

Archant

A heated meeting over a Suffolk town’s community centre proposals heard widespread opposition to the chosen site - and calls for a rethink.

The community centre could be built on the Mills Charity's site, alongside 14 almshouses, which are already underway. Picture: ANDREW HIRST The community centre could be built on the Mills Charity's site, alongside 14 almshouses, which are already underway. Picture: ANDREW HIRST

More than 150 people packed Framlingham College’s Headmaster Porter Theatre last night to have their say on the £1.6m project.

Framlingham Town Council, which held the meeting, has faced opposition from people living near to the proposed site, between Brook Lane and Vyces Road, which they say is unsuitable.

Last week, council chairman James Tanner resigned amid escalating hostility in the debate.

At Wednesday’s meeting, vice chairman Gary Kitching assured residents they could influence the decision. He said Framlingham had been calling for a community centre for years and this was the sixth attempt to meet that need.

While previous attempts failed, he highlighted new opportunities including the Mills Charity offering the site at a “peppercorn rent” and the availability of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding, generated from new housing, to support the costs.

During questions from the audience, however, councillors faced a barrage of opposition. While many thanked their work, they were repeatedly told it was the wrong location. People said many would be disturbed, particularly if the centre hosted large events, while others raised concerns about traffic, which was already a “dangerous hazard”.

However, others questioned whether the views were shared by the wider community - not just those neighbouring the site.

One woman called on the opponents to “think about the town for future generations”.

The opponents said while they recognised the need for a community centre, it should not be built in the wrong location just because it was available cheaply.

Councillors were asked whether others sites had been considered – particularly Framlingham Sports Club. Councillor John Jones said the site arose through the neighbourhood plan when the sports club wanted to sell the land.

However, John Carr, from the sports club, suggested it was “presumptuous” of the council to rule it out. He also suggested the proposals for a community centre at the old police station should be revisited. He said the Mills Charity, which owns both sites, might consider a “swap”.

Mr Jones said he was open to other suggestions. “I’m not trying to close doors,” he said. “I’m listening very carefully.”

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