‘Help us to shape Swaffham’s future’, says mayor

The Buttercross in Swaffham. ENGANL00120140402160040
The Buttercross in Swaffham. ENGANL00120140402160040
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People living in Swaffham have been urged to help shape its future in a new campaign by community leaders.

The town council is seeking to develop a neighbourhood plan for the parish, which is intended to set out how future development might be accommodated.

A public consultation event was held at the town hall on Wednesday for residents to share their ideas.

And mayor Paul Darby said now is the time for the public to give their views on a range of issues facing the town.

He said: “There’s nothing ruled in and nothing ruled out.”

Ahead of the consultation, the council held talks with several community organisations about the plan.

And residents were able to share their thoughts on five areas – housing, transport, the economy, social and community issues and wellbeing – by sticking notes to boards set up in the council chamber.

Among the issues raised were calls for improved bus links, including a direct link to train services at Downham, a plea for more affordable homes, a desire for a cap on the number of charity shops in the town and concerns over the pressure on local schools and pre-school provision.

Other residents called for greater backing of the campaign for a swimming pool in the town and improved promotion of the town’s football club in a bid to bring more visitors to Swaffham.

Mr Darby conceded the plan would not affect the housing schems which are currently being developed in Swaffham, but said the process could identify areas where future development could be accommodated or whether there was little desire for further house building.

And, in response to a comment which called for new ideas, he said: “That’s what we want. We’re not going to do all this ourselves.”

The council is aiming to draw up the plan over the next 12 to 18 months. It will then have to be backed by residents in a referendum before it is adopted.

Anyone who wants to share their ideas with the town council should phone 01760 722922, email enquiries@swaffhamtowncouncil.gov.uk or write to 4 London Street, Swaffham PE37 7DQ.