Waveney Local Plan

Key issues in Beccles and Worlingham

016 Beccles Town Centre

Beccles is the largest market town in the District. Beccles and Worlingham have grown over the years to form a single contiguous built up area with a combined population of 13,868(Beccles 10,123, Worlingham 3,745). The town sits close to the Norfolk and Suffolk border and is constrained by marshland associated with the River Waveney and the Broads Authority area to the north. Part of the town is within the Broads Authority area. As a result the town has expanded mostly southwards with some residential areas some distance from the town centre with poor access to services and facilities and open space. The town has good links to Lowestoft and Norwich and is connected by train to Lowestoft and Ipswich.

Beccles does not suffer from many of the social issues that Lowestoft does. However, there are neighbourhoods in the town which are some of the most deprived in the District. The town provides a good range of services to meet everyday needs and acts as a service centre for the surrounding rural community. Beccles benefits from a rich historic environment and is in close proximity to valuable natural assets. There are some pockets of high grade agricultural land around the town. The landscape to the west and north of the town is more sensitive to development.

Beccles and Worlingham are well served by employment premises. The main employment area is disconnected from the town at Ellough. There is currently no public transport provision to the Ellough employment areas and walking and cycling access is also poor. A southern relief road is under construction which will take HGV traffic away from the town centre and this may improve pedestrian and cycle links to the employment area. The road is expected to be completed in 2018. There are electricity capacity issues to the east of the town which are limiting the potential for further development at the industrial areas at Ellough. Due to its location on the Broads, tourism is an important part of the Beccles economy.

At present most working people in Beccles and Worlingham do not work in the town (or in the Ellough employment area). A third of people commute to other local authority areas including South Norfolk, Norwich and Great Yarmouth. 10% travel to Lowestoft. Traffic congestion is an issue for some parts of the town, such as around Ingate, and in this location there is a risk it could contribute to air quality problems.

Beccles town centre has performed well in recent years and has an increasing number of national multiple stores and independent stores and low vacancy rates.