Residents in Forest Heath are being given the chance to decide where new homes will be built in the district with the launch of a new consultation.
Although it has a Core Strategy, which deals with planning issues such as environmental impact and affordable homes, the district has been without guidelines about the number of homes to be built and their location for a number of years, with the development of its local plan delayed by a High Court decision in 2012.
Now Forest Heath District Council is kickstarting the first phase of consultation, asking residents to decide how many homes they would like to see built and where the new homes, jobs, schools, roads and other supporting infrastructure should go.
The consultation will open on Tuesday, August 11 and run until October 6.
James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said: “I encourage everyone who lives and works in Forest Heath to have their say.
“The decisions we take over the next year or so will have a real effect on the prosperity of our future generations and we need to get them right.
“The Local Plan must take account of local needs, be sustainable and be practical - we have to be able to deliver it.
“It’s up to everyone with a stake in Forest Heath’s future to make sure it does the job.”
During the first phase of the consultation, residents will have the opportunity to comment on two elements of the new local plan.
These will be site allocation, to identify which sites should be earmarked for development, and the Single Issue Review, which looks at the number of homes and their distribtution through the district over the next 15 years.
According to a consultation overview, evidence points to a need for 7,000 new homes up to 2031, equivalent to 350 per year.
The number of new affordable homes needed is 2,703, in line with the district’s policy which states 30 per cent of homes on new sites over 10 dwellings must be affordable.
Four options are being proposed for where homes should be built, with the focus shifting between Red Lodge, Lakenheath, Newmarket and Mildenhall.
Two options account for a ‘planned expansion’ of Red Lodge, with one anticipating ‘primary villages with capacity’ will shoulder some of the burden.
Beck Row, West Row, Kentford and Exning are all earmarked for development. Brandon is also set to grow, but the overview notes ‘significant environmental contraints’.
A vast number of sites have been submitted and are being consulted on including 32 in Mildenhall, 21 in Brandon, 20 in Lakenheath, 22 in Beck Row and 19 in both West Row and Red Lodge.
The overview states any implications from the eventual closure of RAF Mildenhall will be factored in ‘as and when they emerge’.
Consultation responses can be made online or via a comments form. There will also be meetings and drop-in sessions in Brandon, Lakenheath, Mildenhall, Newmarket and Red Lodge as well as market stalls in the district’s three towns.
All the documents will be abailable to view on the council’s online planning portal at westsuffolk.jpi-consult.net/localplan from August 11.
There will also be hard copies of the documents available from the same day at the district council’s offices in Mildenhall, Newmarket Customer Information and Brandon Library.