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Plan for how housing and employment could be shaped across Mid Suffolk and Babergh takes a step forward

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A plan for how housing and employment could be shaped across two districts has taken a step forward.

Mid Suffolk District Council gave the green light for the Local Development Scheme timetable, detailing the next steps for the Joint Local Plan, at its meeting last Thursday. This followed approval by Babergh District Council which approved the timetable unanimously, on Tuesday.

Parties across both councils acknowledged the "challenging nature" of preparing a Joint Local Plan within constraints set by government, with changes to National Planning Policy Framework and last year’s snap general election which they say has contributed to a delay in progressing the plan.

Mid Suffolk District Council, Endeavour House (39285098)
Mid Suffolk District Council, Endeavour House (39285098)

Additional officer resource will now be made available to safeguard against future delay in recognition that further changes to national planning policies may arise as a result of the Government’s response to Covid-19.

The Joint Local Plan will clarify how the councils propose to meet housing and employment targets set by central government, and follow input from communities on how and where development should take place between now and 2037.

It is proposed that the next version of Mid Suffolk and Babergh's Joint Local Plan will be published in the autumn, after which a six-week consultation will take place, enabling stakeholders to provide further feedback on the soundness of the plan, following the public consultation last summer.

Cllr David Burn (39285161)
Cllr David Burn (39285161)

The final Joint Local Plan will be formally adopted by the councils after examination by a Planning Inspector.

At present Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils hold a five year housing land supply and adopted planning policies, which in conjunction with the National Planning Policy Framework, provide sufficient criteria for determining planning applications and refusing unsuitable development.

Councillors also agreed to the proposed timetable for a review of current Community Infrastructure Levy rates, which are collected from developers when they build new properties, also set out within The Local Development Scheme.

The review will ensure sufficient funding is provided to accommodate the additional infrastructure needed to support the development proposed by the Joint Local Plan.

Communities across Babergh and Mid Suffolk have received in excess of £4.5 million in Community Infrastructure Levy since the start of the year – including over £3 million for school expansions – and funding for community led projects ranging from village hall refurbishments to new children’s play areas.

Cllr David Burn, Mid Suffolk District Council Cabinet Member for Planning said: “I welcome the approval of the proposed timetable for our Joint Local Plan, which presents an opportunity for us all to shape the future of Mid Suffolk.

“We are not just building homes, we are building communities and this plan will allow us to secure the infrastructure needed to support growth, guaranteeing bright and healthy futures for our residents.

“It is a blueprint for developing towns and villages, regenerating our local economy at a time when this is needed most and ensuring we protect and enhance our natural environment with sustainable development and transport options, as we all work towards a greener Suffolk.”

Cllr Clive Arthey, Babergh District Council Cabinet Member for Planning said: “Development is incredibly important to us all, and particularly to our communities where housing growth can have a significant impact on their facilities and the landscape.

“Whilst we cannot control housing targets set by Government, we can continue to work with Babergh residents to influence where these developments are located, supporting our ambition for people to be proud to call our communities home.

“It has taken some time to prepare the Joint Local Plan, and we are now a step closer to providing clarity and reassurance about when and where required new homes will be built.”