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Councils left 'picking up the pieces' following Mid Suffolk's lack of five-year housing land supply

Town and parish councils say they have been left picking up the pieces by a historic lack of five-year housing land supply in Mid Suffolk.

Babergh District Council headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (3155467)
Babergh District Council headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (3155467)

Last week, Mid Suffolk District Council announced it now had a land supply in place, but towns and parishes where plans for hundreds of homes were approved are unhappy.

The previous lack of a five-year supply for deliverable housing land had forced the district council to consider all planning applications in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

In Thurston, where permission was granted for nearly 700 homes on four sites, the parish council said district councillors dealing with planning had ‘no backbone’.

The parish council said: “Developers have had a free-hand and for Thurston this has had, and will have, a detrimental impact on the village.

“This community feels there has been much less regard for the community and that more work has gone into enabling developers to bring forward their plans without addressing the issues raised by the community that such development is unsustainable. This has led to the view that the councillors on Mid Suffolk’s planning committee have not been representing the electorate that elected them in.”

Xy Stansfield, leader of Needham Market Town Council’s planning section, said the district council had focussed on a potential merger with Babergh District Council and taken its eye off its responsibilities, to the ‘irreversible detriment of its communities’.

“In view of its abject failures in relation to housing land supply coupled with having no up-to-date local plan, the district council should be made accountable,” said Cllr Stansfield.

“The door has been left wide open for housing developers to submit and gain approval for developments that were unplanned for and potentially the wrong type of development in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“This has led to enormous anxiety and pressure across its local communities and will have a long-lasting impact, including for Needham Market. The town council is consequently having now to pick up the pieces.”

In Stowupland, where more than 300 homes were approved at appeal, there is frustration the council had not reported its housing land supply earlier.

Ray Studd, Stowupland parish councillor and chairman of its planning committee, said: "If it had been published in April and not July there is a good chance planning permission for 143 houses joining Stowupland to Stowmarket would have not been granted at the Government Planning Appeal inquiry held in April.”

"As you can imagine, the residents of Stowupland I have spoken to are pretty hacked off."

Cllr Keith Welham, who represents Stowupland on the district council, said: "The Conservative administration at the district council could and should have taken steps to make sure this situation did not arise, but failed to do so.

"Had the council not waited until July (to announce the land supply), Stowupland and other villages might have been spared large numbers of homes being built in places where there is inadequate infrastructure to support them."

Cllr Glen Horn, Mid Suffolk cabinet member for planning, said: "I can assure communities that they have been guiding development over the last few years and helping us deliver the appropriate housing we need in the district.”

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