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Green Party councillors withdraw support for Mid Suffolk and Babergh draft joint local plan

A long-awaited draft local plan for Mid Suffolk could fall at the first hurdle after Green Party councillors withdrew their support.

Mid Suffolk and Babergh councillors will be asked to approve a draft joint local plan for public consultation at full council meetings next week, however Green councillors say the document ignores villages’ wishes.

The draft joint local plan proposes a set of planning policies that would be used to inform decisions on future planning applications and appeals. If approved next week, residents, businesses and stakeholders will be consulted between July and September.

Cllr Andrew Stringer
Cllr Andrew Stringer

Group leader Rachel Eburne said they could see ‘little or no attempt’ to achieve conformity between land allocations for new housing between several villages’ neighbourhood plans and the draft document.

“This last-minute disagreement could have been avoided if those of us elected to represent local views and knowledge had been allowed to discuss the allocation maps up-front; but we were not,” she said.

The Greens are concerned several more similar failings are yet to be found in the almost 500-page draft plan, which was only released to them in recent days.

Cllr Eburne said: “We need to get the public consultation under way after so many delays, but cannot support a document which flouts the basic guidance of the national planning policy framework that neighbourhood plans must conform to district plans. There was a need for pre-scrutiny by councillors.”

Cllr Andrew Stringer said: “We can now see why the Conservatives were so desperate to delay publishing these plans until after the recent local elections.”

Mid Suffolk and Babergh began gathering evidence to help prepare the new joint local plan in 2016. An early draft plan was produced and consultation undertaken during 2017.

Key points of the new document include: a housing requirement of 17,568 new homes between 2018 and 2036 – 420 dwellings per year in Babergh and 556 per year in Mid Suffolk – and prioritising new retail and town centre uses in Stowmarket.

Cllr David Burn, Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet member for planning, said: “The joint local plan will help to shape the future of Mid Suffolk.”

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