Saxmundham Neighbourhood Plan

The voice of Saxmundham’s residents – full results of the household survey

Monday, July 20th, 2020 3:20 pm

A year ago, in summer 2019, the residents of Saxmundham were invited to complete a household survey, asking their views about a range of issues to do with the future of the town.  1,000 gave us their answers – for which we are truly grateful. We have now put together all the results in report published this week by the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, with the support of Saxmundham Town Council.  

The report is called “The future of Saxmundham – the voice of our residents” 

You can also download its short 2 page summary of some of the key results here 

A broadly representative sample 

Over 2,200 forms were hand delivered by volunteers to every home, and around 550 were returned, completed by almost 1,000 residents.  That is a return rate of 25%, which we consider is a reasonably good result for such an exercise.  Those who answered the survey reflected the overall population quite well in terms of age and gender, though with a slight over-representation of older citizens.

We had already drawn attention to some key findings in the public examination last year of the East Suffolk District Council’s draft Local Plan.  It is the district council’s proposal (not the town council’s) to build what they describe as a new ‘garden neighbourhood’ of some 800 new dwellings to the south of the town.  Most residents do not favour growth of the town on such a scale, nor is the proposed location seen as the right one by most.

Future housing growth

Asked how much Saxmundham should grow over the coming 18 years, looking at future needs for housing, 950 people responded as follows:

  • 13% supported an increase of 800 or more new homes,
  • 16% supported 500-600,
  • 34% favoured 200-300,
  • while 33% wanted no increase in housing.

New housing – where to be located

We asked where – if  the District Council’s Local Plan proposal for 800+ new dwellings in Saxmundham is to go ahead – the best place for it would be:

  • just 8% of respondents agreed with the District Council’s original proposal to site the new housing to the South of the town including on The Layers, i.e. on both sides of the railway,
  • 18% supported the plan to build all to the South of the town, but only on the west side of the railway (up to the A12 by-pass).
  • 35% thought all new housing development should be to the East (up Church Hill),
  • 20% supported a division of new housing between East and South (to west of railway)

New Community facilities

Asked which types of new facilities residents would favour, the top priority specified from a list of options was

  • new medical facilities (824 respondents), followed by
  • children’s play areas (399),
  • indoor sports centre (395),
  • swimming pool (382),
  • entertainment / performance centre (355),
  • gym (320),
  • cinema (269), and
  • allotments (267).

Town Centre, High Street, Station area

Asked whether the High Street would benefit from a set of changes (up to 3 to be chosen), 1,836 answers were given by 915 respondents. The preferences expressed were:

  • Additional parking facilities in/near town centre (cited by 461)
  • Reduce speed limit (310)
  • Pedestrianisation (306)
  • Widening footways (278)
  • Priority for pedestrians (233)
  • Traffic control of narrowest part of High Street (141)
  • None of these (101)

Asked if the wider Town Centre and Station area would be improved by any of five options, 844 respondents expressed 1,731 preferences:

  •  Development of area round the station, including new business & employment opportunities (707)
  • Improvements to Station Approach for cyclists & pedestrians (404)
  • Improvements to cycle and pedestrian links to town centre (340)
  • Designed signage at key points to direct to facilities & points of interest (280)

Summarising thousands of your comments!

The survey offered quite a few open-ended questions in which residents were able to write in their own answers.  We originally thought only a relatively small number would do so but in fact our residents ‘went to town’ and gave us – if you add them all together – several thousand comments, ideas and suggestions!  We have tried to group and roughly quantify them, and these analyses are included in the full report.  As a last question (Part G) we invited “any other comments”, and received a further 450 or so.  We summarise some of the main points made as follows:

• Future growth must be linked to a proper provision of services and infrastructure
• The need for a larger, better provided medical centre and related services
• The road structure is inadequate already, and too busy, especially by the Chantry Road traffic lights and supermarkets, while the High Street traffic is also an issue
• The town centre needs improving and regenerating, with a particular need for family-type restaurants and pubs, community services and activities, and for evening entertainment for all age groups
• Generally, the town lacks recreational and leisure facilities
• There is a perceived problem of increased misbehaviour and crime, with insufficient police presence, which needs tackling
• We need to offer more for young people to do in the town
• We should pay attention to environmental and ecological issues

We have copied and pasted around 75 of the comments, reflecting a cross-section of points, into the report, which you can read from page 24 on.

It took many, many hours to transcribe all these comments from the forms into a database (all anonymous), and then to work through them to analyse the main trends within the comments.  In case you are interested in seeing all the comments (please excuse any errors of transcription), these are also available in 2 long documents:

NPHousehold Survey Text A to E

NPHousehold Survey Text F and G