Councils seek opinions over blueprint for growth

By 2036, 9,951 new houses will be needed in Mid Suffolk and 7,820 in Babergh. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.
By 2036, 9,951 new houses will be needed in Mid Suffolk and 7,820 in Babergh. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

People living in Mid Suffolk and Babergh are being urged to have their say in shaping the future of the region.

Opinions on housing, the economy, the environment, communities and local infrastructure are being sought by Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, following the publication this week of the Joint Local Plan: Consultation Document.

The Joint Local Plan predicts by 2036, that 9,951 new houses will be needed in Mid Suffolk and 7,820 in Babergh.

Land will also be required to meet employment needs for 6,450 new jobs in Mid Suffolk and 3,640 new jobs in Babergh.

The downloadable 88-page document sets out the two councils’ preferences for the development of the districts over the next 20 years.

The accompanying appendices also contain illustrations of land currently identified for housing and development in towns and villages about which views are being sought for the first time.

The land identified follows appeals from both councils in 2014 and 2016 about land availability across the two districts to meet housing and employment needs.

Council planners want people to give their views online, via libraries, council offices and drop-in events.

“This first stage of consultation and is everyone’s opportunity to have their say,” said Mid Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for planning, Cllr David Whybrow.

“Please take time to find out more and do come along to the public drop-in events.”

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have come under increasing pressure to draw up the plan in light of the number planning applications from housing developers along the A14 corridor.

An ‘up-to-date’ Local Plan is a Government requirement and when complete, is assessed by a Government inspector.

Without a Local Plan, planning guidelines contained in the National Planning Policy Framework have priority, which have a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’.

The national policy has been criticised as a boon to developers because it shifts the onus onto councils to demonstrate a proposed development is inappropriate.

A Local Plan can be backed by a Neighbourhood Plan, drawn up by parish councils.

Cllr Lee Parker, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for planing, said: “The Joint Local Plan is an important document that will shape how the districts will develop over the next 20 years. This is an opportunity for everyone to have their say.”

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils hope the Joint Local Plan will be complete within two years.

The document can be downloaded at www.babergh.gov.uk/jointlocalplan or www.midsuffolk.gov.uk/jointlocalplan. Comments can be made up until 5pm on November 10.