Referendum will give residents their say on future development in Lavenham

The Market Square, in Lavenham

The Market Square, in Lavenham

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Lavenham residents will finally be able to cast their votes over the proposed neighbourhood plan when a referendum is held next month.

Set to take place on September 8, the vote comes after almost four years of consultation and research over a blueprint that could shape future development.

Lavenham Parish Council chairman Carroll Reeve said: “It feels like a weight has been lifted. It has taken four years to get to where we are now.

“Now we have a plan based on a lot of engagement with the local community through meetings and workshops over the years.”

The first plan of its kind to reach this stage in Suffolk, the proposals published last August could form a legally binding Neighbourhood Plan that could determine planning applications in future.

The referendum follows a six-week consultation held earlier this year by the district council, when an independent examiner produced her official report recommending that the plan should go to referendum.

A questionnaire organised by Lavenham Parish Council in 2013 provoked a 70 per cent response and helped shape the policies which focus on future development.

These include limiting new developments to a maximum of 24 dwellings, and focuses on the introduction of smaller, more affordable, homes which would give local people priority.

Mr Reeve said: “This adds to the Babergh core strategy and puts it into a local context.

“We’re not talking about preserving Lavenham as a picture postcard village, what we’re talking about is creating a more balanced community.

“We have a much older population in the village but we need to encourage young people to work and live here as well, we’ve got to make sure schools and pre-schools are healthy and strong.”

Residents will have an opportunity to cast their vote on the referendum on September 8 at polling stations in the area.

Mr Reeve added: “Everyone should be getting a polling card through soon from Babergh District Council.

“You will be able to vote in the usual way at the village hall, or by post, on September 8.”

The full plan and paperwork is available online here to read: http://www.lavenhamneighbourhoodplan.co.uk/neighbourhood-plan/