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Mid Suffolk District Council planners to review applications following five-year housing land supply figures

Improved land supply figures in Mid Suffolk have been given a cautious welcome after years of calls for action.

On Wednesday, Mid Suffolk District Council demonstrated it now has a six-and-a-half year housing land supply – meeting the Government's five-year requirement – in its annual monitoring report.

As a result, planners will review all current applications and pre-application inquiries on which it could have a bearing, including applications awaiting formal permission.

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

Cllr David Whybrow, cabinet member for planning, said: "We've had to take some tough decisions over the past few years and more than once some of our planning committee members found themselves sitting for 12 hours a day, but that hard work has now paid off.

"With a five-year land supply in place, we can address the housing need in our district and ensure we build the right houses in the right places, with more input at a local level.

"Thanks to this work, we have greater control to implement the planning policies that our members have voted for and are in a stronger position to refuse inappropriate proposals from developers."

The council said it has been unable to demonstrate land supply since April 2017 – a date disputed by Green Party councillors, who claim the lack of five-year land supply was first exploited by developers in 2015.

Cllr John Matthissen, who has been on the planning committee since 2007, said: "We had to approve applications which did not conform to our local policies, so the stable door has been open for far more than a year."

Rachel Eburne, Green party opposition leader, said the land supply was good news for the future, but did not help the communities which now had planning permissions for 'homes in all the wrong places'.

"We have been pushing for action on this for more than four years. While we're pleased the stable door has been shut, too many horses have bolted," she added.

Green Party Cllr Andrew Stringer said: "It appears we have built enough houses in Mid Suffolk last year to achieve the number for the five year housing land supply, but we will have to achieve this next year and in subsequent years if we are not to be in the same position again."

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