West Suffolk Council calls for more people to visit virtual local plan exhibition
Residents are being urged to join more than 1,500 people who have already visited an open all hours virtual exhibition to help form a new local plan for West Suffolk.
The new local plan will help to shape the future of communities and support development up to 2040.
Due to Covid-19 the council is using new ways to help people understand the issues and have their say over the 10-week engagement.
As part of this, a virtual exhibition in an online village hall has been set up. It includes a film, information boards and documents. The exhibition can be found at https://westsuffolk.exhibition.app/
The online village hall exhibition never shuts and already 1,590 people have visited it.
West Suffolk Council is asking people to have a say on the initial 'issues and options' phase, which sets the foundations of the formation of the final plan.
Planning officers are available to talk online via live chat in the virtual exhibition space on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10am-noon and 4pm-6pm, or over the telephone on 01284 757368.
The local plan sets out where homes could be built and supports, with other council policies, where new jobs and other vital facilities are located. All West Suffolk planning decisions are judged against local plan policies.
The local plan ensures the right number and types of homes are built in the right places and, through its policies, supports the provision of space for employment, green spaces, education, culture, health and sports facilities.
It also looks at how infrastructure supports this growth and the challenges faced in the area, such as climate change.
A local plan is also vital to prevent speculative development that could harm communities, the countryside and the environment. It ensures growth is well planned and supports future ambitions for the future.
The process involves three consultation stages. The first is the issues and options stage, which started on October 13 and ends on December 22.
This initial stage which will help to shape the plan and the future of West Suffolk as it develops.
The issues and options consultation has three parts:
Part one includes a spatial vision, a new draft settlement hierarchy and options for the distribution growth
Part two sets out issues in West Suffolk relevant to our area, and
Part three contains sections for the towns, key service centres, local service centres and villages identified in the new draft settlement hierarchy in part one of the plan. It also includes a new call for sites.
At this first information gathering stage, the council will be consulting and seeking comments on issues and options, including questions such as whether the challenges have been identified correctly, relevant local issues, and whether the options for delivering growth have been covered.
Cllr John Griffiths, West Suffolk Council leader, said: “I would like to thank the hundreds of people who have already visited our online exhibition and encourage others to follow suit and have their say.
"A good local plan is central to the best possible future development of West Suffolk and our communities.
"It is much more than just about where housing and associated facilities may go, but will set out how best to support future prosperity and future generations in our area as well as tackling issues such as climate change. In short, it should help to ensure we get the right kind of development in the right places while protecting our environment."
Cllr David Roach, West Suffolk Council cabinet member for local plan, said: “During this time of Covid-19, with guidance restricting face-to-face meetings, we are having to engage in different ways including a virtual village hall exhibition that never shuts.
"The local knowledge of our residents is vital in forming these plans. We have also engaged with parishes on a one-to-one basis and will continue to do so when requested. Help us to shape the future of West Suffolk.”