Councils Advance Vision For Great Communities

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have this week approved a timetable for the Joint Local Plan – further supporting the councils’ ambition to build thriving communities with bright and healthy futures.

Councillors at Mid Suffolk District Council gave the green light for the Local Development Scheme timetable, detailing the next steps for the Joint Local Plan, at its Full Council meeting on Thursday 24 July following Babergh District Council unanimously approving the timetable on Tuesday 22.

The Joint Local Plan will clarify how the councils propose to meet housing and employment targets set by Government and, following input from communities, detail how and where development should take place between now and 2037 – ensuring much-needed suitable and sustainable homes are built in the right places. It is proposed that the next iteration of Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s Joint Local Plan will be published in the autumn, after which a six-week consultation will take place, enabling stakeholders to provide further feedback on the soundness of the plan following the public consultation last summer.

There has been ongoing review of the plan by both officers and Councillors. Work on the next version is currently underway, including updating evidence and appraisals to ensure the final Joint Local Plan promotes sustainable development, reflects public feedback, and considers the potential impact of Covid-19, as well as social, environmental and economic aspects.

Following agreement of the Local Development Scheme timetable by both councils, the revised Joint Local Plan is expected to be published in Autumn 2020 – and will carry increased weight in the planning decision making process once agreed by Councillors at Full Council in November 2020. The final Joint Local Plan will be formally adopted by the councils after examination by a Planning Inspector.

Political parties across both councils acknowledged the challenging nature of preparing a Joint Local Plan within constraints set by Government, with changes to National Planning Policy Framework and last year’s snap General Election contributing to a delay in progressing the plan. Additional officer resource will be made available to safeguard against future delay – in recognition that further changes to national planning policies may arise as a result of the Government’s response to Covid-19.

At present Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils hold a five year housing land supply and adopted planning policies, which in conjunction with the National Planning Policy Framework, provide sufficient criteria for determining planning applications and refusing unsuitable development. This has enabled the councils to refuse a number of planning applications in recent months, such as the refusal of 120 houses at Haughley Park in response to concerns about poor connectivity and harm to local heritage, and 49 new homes in Sproughton being refused due to a lack of proven justifiable need.

Councillors also agreed to the proposed timetable for a review of current Community Infrastructure Levy rates, which are collected from developers when they build new properties, also set out within The Local Development Scheme. The review will ensure sufficient funding is provided to accommodate the additional infrastructure needed to support the development proposed by the Joint Local Plan.

Communities across Babergh and Mid Suffolk have received in excess of £4.5 million in Community Infrastructure Levy since the start of the year – including over £3 million for school expansions – and funding for community led projects ranging from village hall refurbishments to new children’s play areas.

Cllr Clive Arthey, Babergh District Council Cabinet Member for Planning said: “Development is incredibly important to us all, and particularly to our communities where housing growth can have a significant impact on their facilities and the landscape. Whilst we cannot control housing targets set by Government, we can continue to work with Babergh residents to influence where these developments are located, supporting our ambition for people to be proud to call our communities home. It has taken some time to prepare the Joint Local Plan, and we are now a step closer to providing clarity and reassurance about when and where required new homes will be built.”

Cllr David Burn, Mid Suffolk District Council Cabinet Member for Planning said: “I welcome the approval of the proposed timetable for our Joint Local Plan, which presents an opportunity for us all to shape the future of Mid Suffolk. We are not just building homes – we are building communities and this plan will allow us to secure the infrastructure needed to support growth – guaranteeing bright and healthy futures for our residents. It is a blueprint for developing towns and villages – regenerating our local economy at a time when this is needed most – and ensuring we protect and enhance our natural environment with sustainable development and transport options, as we all work towards a greener Suffolk.”

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