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Development plan for two Suffolk districts expected summer 2019

PUBLISHED: 07:20 13 April 2019

Babergh council leader John Ward with his opposite number from Mid Suffolk, Nick Gowrley, said a joint local plan was the number one priority following the elections. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Babergh council leader John Ward with his opposite number from Mid Suffolk, Nick Gowrley, said a joint local plan was the number one priority following the elections. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Developing a joint plan for future development across a large part of Suffolk is "top of the list" for two new councils, leaders have said - with a first draft expected to be revealed this summer.

Green councillor John Matthissen said it should have been a priority four years ago. Picture: OWEN HINESGreen councillor John Matthissen said it should have been a priority four years ago. Picture: OWEN HINES

Voters across Suffolk will take to the polls on May 2, with full elections happening at Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils.

Respective council leaders John Ward and Nick Gowrley, both Conservative, 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 weren’t 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,” Mr Ward said. “We don’t want to be fighting communities.

“We have got growth targets we have got to deliver, but delivering that in a way that is sympathetic to the rural nature of our two districts, and provide 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.

“That’s why we are supporting the creation of neighbourhood plans,” he said.

“That’s the whole purpose of what we are about – to give the communities what they want where they want it. We have got to have the right housing in the right place at the right price.”

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

However, opposition councillors at Mid Suffolk have said that while work on a new local plan was vital, it had taken far too long.

John Matthissen from the opposition Green group said: “This should have been the Tories’ priority four years ago after the last elections. Then we could have maintained a five year land supply.

“Our stance on all our leaflets is that we need to regain control of the planning system and part of that is to get a local plan in place.

“On timetables a few years ago that would have been a decision in place before the elections, but as it is it is spring or summer 2020 for adoption.”

Progress is expected to resume once the elections are complete.

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