A PARISH council has raised concerns over proposals to demolish a sports centre and former theatre and build 49 homes in their place.

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An application has been tabled with Suffolk Coastal District Council to develop the sites in Sycamore Drive, Rendlesham.

If given the green light the former Jets gym would be knocked down to pave the way for 23 two and three bedroomed homes, while the old Angel Theatre would also be demolished ahead of building 26 similarly sized properties.

Villagers can learn more about the proposals today at a drop in session between 4pm and 9pm at the community centre. The parish council is confident that the gym and theatre are both viable as community buildings if diversified to include additional community and retail facilities. These proposals have been outlined in its emerging Neighbourhood Plan and they are calling for any decision to be delayed until that document is complete.

Dave Rushbrook, chairman of the Rendlesham Parish Council’s planning committee, said: ”This application is in direct conflict with the aims and aspirations of the community as expressed through our emerging Rendlesham Neighbourhood Plan. One of the core aims of the document is to create locally specific planning policy to safeguard the centre of the village for retail and community use for the future. Our aim is to enable the growth of the educational, leisure and business sectors in the village centre, creating the opportunity for local employment, local skills and a sense of community.”

Colin Hay, parish council chairman, added: “To lose these sites to housing would inevitably mean that a village of 3,500 plus residents would need to travel to Woodbridge, Wickham Market and beyond to access basic facilities - facilities that could easily be made available in the village centre, if the emerging Neighbourhood Plan is given time to happen. Rendlesham is not saying no to housing, simply that the Neighbourhood Plan be given time to ensure housing is built in the right place with the right infrastructure to support a growing population, essential if Rendlesham wants to become a sustainable place to live and work in.”

Rendlesham Parish Council was chosen by the Government as one of the first in the country to develop a Neighbourhood Plan and give people a statutory say on how their community should develop in the future.

The application for new homes has been tabled by agents Boyer Planning Ltd on behalf of Walnut Tree Properties Ltd. No one from either company was available for comment yesterday.

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