Southwold and Reydon Society

Protecting the character and amenities of Southwold and Reydon

Planning Policy

Southwold & Reydon Society Housing Report 2011

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.

Arising from this the Society recognised that it needed to establish some basic facts about housing in the area and a group, under the chairmanship of Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson along with Dr John Stewart, Tony Evans and Jeannette Radley-Kane have produced a report to do just that.

The report covers the various categories of houses – occupied, vacant, second homes and holiday lets, and social housing (Local Authority rental, housing associations, housing charities) in Southwold and Reydon.

In terms of the resident adult population there was a decline in Southwold from 1308 in 2001 to 1026 in 2009, a decline of 282. (For Reydon the population dropped from 2367 to 2134 over the same period). Consistent with this there has been a rise in second homes and holiday lets to 45% of the total in 2010 compared with 36% in 2001; for Reydon the estimate is 12% in 2010. It is likely that the percentage of second homes and holiday lets in Southwold will be over 50% by 2020.

This obviously puts pressure on those residents seeking to buy their first homes or to live and work in Southwold. Currently social housing in Southwold comprises 124 units, and 148 in Reydon, 10.7% and 10.5% of the total housing stock respectively.

There is a great deal more detail in the report for those wishing to delve deeper (download as a pdf. below), but the numbers beg the question of how to view the outcomes and what action should be taken.

On the one hand, quantitatively, economic success in Southwold (and Reydon) is driving up house prices and attracting second home owners who either use the house personally as well as rent it out or simply buy to let. All of which creates commercial activity from the visitors who then spend money here, providing work to support this industry sector, from building improvements to cleaning staff, as well as the retail and eating/drinking establishments. And a significant number of second home owners eventually retire here.

Qualitatively, taking of a view of the High St over the past 12 weeks, would indicate that we live in a vibrant commercial community (The Chamber of Trade might like to comment here). We may not like the decline of our independents e.g. book shops, fishmonger etc., and the rise in clothing shop multiples. But it can be argued that these are responding to the needs of people who visit here.

Conversely though, if we reach the point of over 50% second homes and holiday lets in Southwold by 2020, what effect will this have on there being shops to service residents’ needs or our primary school ? Will Southwold just be a ghost town on a wet Tuesday afternoon in February 2020?

We therefore encourage members to join the debate and let us have your views.

Dexter Kirk , Membership Secretary

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