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Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils give the green light to streamlined Neighbourhood Plan process

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Proposals to streamline the Neighbourhood Plan process have been approved by Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councillors.

Neighbourhood Plans give communities the chance to develop a shared vision for their area, ensuring residents can have a say on where future growth takes place.

The plans can also include guidance on what new homes could look like, which open spaces the community would like to preserve and where they would like new shops or businesses to be located.

Mid Suffolk District Council, Endeavour House (51633609)
Mid Suffolk District Council, Endeavour House (51633609)

Benefits to preparing a plan include the parish becoming eligible for an uplift in Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds – bringing the total to 25 per cent when new homes are built in their area – while an adopted Neighbourhood Plan holds statutory weight and status in the planning decision process and becomes part of the district’s wider development plan.

To date, around 50 parishes in Babergh and Mid Suffolk have started to prepare Neighbourhood Plans, with 16 of these being adopted.

However, both councils felt the process could be streamlined, thereby encouraging more communities to prepare a plan and helping those currently under way.

Cllr David Burn (51633724)
Cllr David Burn (51633724)

A recommendation was made for Neighbourhood Plans to automatically proceed to referendum after examination – subject to the implementation of any required modifications agreed by the parish and district councils – rather than having to seek approval at cabinet.

It was also suggested that post-referendum Neighbourhood Plans – with a majority yes vote – could be formally adopted by the councils’ chief executive, again reducing the need for the decision to wait for a formal council meeting to take place.

This will help mitigate potential delays to plans progressing due to external factors.

Proposals went before Babergh councillors on Tuesday and Mid Suffolk’s full council meeting on Friday. They received unanimous approval, with changes set to be implemented immediately.

Cllr Clive Arthey, Babergh cabinet member for planning, said: "Having a Neighbourhood Plan enables communities to shape growth in their area and preserve important local open space – benefitting residents and supporting our ongoing vision for Babergh to be an attractive, successful and connected place for people to live.

“Our council doesn’t underestimate the time and effort involved in preparing these plans and I am delighted we are streamlining the process, as we continue to support any community wishing to come forward and prepare a plan.”

Cllr David Burn, Mid Suffolk cabinet member for planning, said: “A positively prepared Neighbourhood Plan can add real value at local level – empowering communities to have their say on where future development takes place and what this looks like.

“I fully support the changes to the process, which will not only reduce officer workload but also make it quicker and easier for plans to advance to referendum and be successfully adopted.”

A full list of all adopted Neighbourhood Plans and those currently under way can be found here.

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