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Joint local plan for development in Babergh and Mid Suffolk a priority after elections, council leaders claim

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Endeavour House, Ipswich (8966039)
Endeavour House, Ipswich (8966039)

A joint local plan for future development across the district will be a priority for two new councils following this year’s local elections.

Voters will take to the polls on May 2, with full elections set to shape the political make-up of both Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils.

Respective council leaders John Ward and Nick Gowrley opted to push back work on a joint local plan – a document which allocates land in the area for housing development – until after the elections, so that voters were not consulting on it during election periods.

But the pair have confirmed that the joint local plan is the number one priority for whichever party emerges with political control of the councils.

“It’s at the top of the list,” said Mr Ward. “We don’t want to be fighting communities.

“We have got growth targets we have got to deliver, but we must do that in a way that is sympathetic to the rural nature of our two districts, while providing extra housing at a rate they can absorb.”

Mr Gowrley said it was also important for parishes and towns to develop their own neighbourhood plans, which offered an additional level of protection against speculative developers.

It is anticipated that a draft will go out to consultation with the public this summer, if progress goes well.

Opposition councillors have said that work on the plan has taken far too long.