New delay to Mid Suffolk and Babergh joint local plan
A joint local plan being developed for Babergh and Mid Suffolk to guide future development in the districts has hit a fresh stumbling block.
Local plans are developed by councils across the country to identify areas suitable for future sustainable development, highlighting areas which should remain as green or open space.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils have been developing a joint plan for the two districts, with the matter set to go before full council meetings this month.
But a decision has now been made to delay progress on the plan until after the elections in May.
Cabinet members said they did not want the matter to become a secondary issue during public consultation to the election canvassing, and by holding it after the election only one issue would be presented at a time.
Cllr Glen Horn, Mid Suffolk cabinet member for planning, said: “A huge amount of work has gone into our joint local plan and we’re really pleased with the draft we now have.
“We want to put it to our communities and give our residents and our towns and parishes the chance to respond in full.
“The fact is that if we put it out just weeks before heading into an election campaign, some residents may feel we as elected members won’t be able to give it our full attention.
“With a plan this important we don’t want anyone to think this is a second priority to anything, so we will be putting our plan to the public after the May elections.”
Cllr Nick Ridley, planning cabinet member for Babergh said the joint local plan would 'form the cornerstone' of planning policy for years to come.
“It is vital we take the time to discuss this in full, both with members, our towns and parishes and with the public who will be living in new wards following our recent boundary review. If that takes a few months longer than originally planned, it will be time well spent to get this right.”
However, concerns have been raised that it would mean more time without a coherent plan, which could enable speculative developers to make applications which are not suitable or sustainable.
Cllr John Matthissen, from the opposition Green group at Mid Suffolk, said: “We are very concerned at this third delay to the production of the joint local plan.
“The plan is crucial to ensuring homes are built where our communities wish to see them and equally essential as part of demonstrating that the council has a five-year housing land supply.”
Cllr Andrew Stringer, also from the Mid Suffolk Green group, added: “The conservative administration has yet again not delivered on promises they made to our communities. These constant slipping timetables are costing our countryside's future.”
A date for when the matter will be resumed has not been given.
More by this authorJason Noble, Local Democracy Reporter