Waveney Local Plan

Southwold Harbour

119 Southwold Harbour6.13 Southwold Harbour lies at the mouth of the River Blyth with Walberswick on its southern side. The informal character of the harbour area contrasts with the ordered neatness of Southwold itself, but both epitomise this part of the Suffolk Heritage Coast and justify their location within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Harbour Conservation Area.

6.14 Blackshore Road, currently classified as a Restricted Byway, provides access to the northern shore of the River Blyth. The road is constantly being damaged by flooding and the increasing level of commercial and visitor traffic. The state of the roadway acts as a constraint to development and contributes to the character of the area.

6.15 The traditional fixed landing stages are part of the heritage of Southwold Harbour and make a significant contribution to its character. Since the area is now full, and due to the size of the harbour and the sensitivity of the landscape, further moorings will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. This could be where existing moorings become permanently inaccessible due to flooding or as a result of alterations or repairs to the sea walls.

6.16 The fisherman's stages are of particular note. In the interests of preserving and enhancing the traditional character of the harbour Conservation Area, as far as possible fishermen's stages should be maintained and repaired to a standard that will preserve and prolong the life of these important structures. When the need for replacement occurs, fixed landing stages should be used. Carefully designed pontoons reflecting the traditional materials and design of the fishermen's landing stages would also be acceptable. The replacement of landing stages and extensions to them require planning permission as well as a Marine Licence from the Marine Management Organisation. In addition, applicants must apply to the Environment Agency for consent for works in, under, over or within 9 metres of the top of the bank of a main river, as required by the Water Resources Act 1991.

6.17 Most of the buildings along the road between Blackshore and Ferry Road are needed by the people who work in the area for storage of equipment and boat repairs. The quality of buildings in the area is not high, but being mostly of timber construction they are part of the character of the area. The quality of the surrounding landscape has to be balanced against the needs of a working harbour and flooding implications. Any further buildings in the harbour area are likely to detract from its character and consequently be detrimental to the landscape and setting. Replacement huts should be similar to the existing huts, to prevent any adverse impact on the landscape and to retain the character of the harbour.

6.18 The entire harbour area is within Flood Zone 3b, the functional flood plain. The National Planning Policy Framework and Guidance restricts development in these locations to only water compatible development and essential infrastructure. 

Policy WLP6.2 - Southwold Harbour

Proposals for replacement and/or extensions to existing landing stages or pontoons will be permitted, provided that there is no detrimental visual impact on the harbour, the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Southwold Harbour Conservation Area and no impact for navigation within the harbour waters. Additional moorings will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances.

Proposals for replacement huts and other buildings on either side of Southwold Harbour will only be permitted where the existing structure is beyond repair and the appearance of the replacement is closely related to the size, shape, design and materials used on the existing hut. Proposals for additional buildings at Southwold Harbour will not be permitted.

In some circumstances extensions to water compatible and essential infrastructure land uses in the harbour will be permitted where it can be demonstrated that it:

  • Will not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere;
  • That it will not affect the structural integrity of a flood defence; and
  • That it is needed for the applicant's employment at the harbour and such development cannot be accommodated elsewhere.