How the next 20 years of Debenham housing was decided in a small cottage in one day

Views of Debenham. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Views of Debenham. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Three sites accommodating up to 316 homes are now set to be earmarked for future development following the referendum on the village’s neighbourhood plan at Dove Cottage polling station on Thursday, which more than 1,000 villagers turned out for.

Four other sites have been dubbed unsustainable because of threats to the character of the village, as well as flooding potential, surface water issues and traffic impacts.

The result featured a 58.8% turnout of eligible voters, with 972 people voting in favour of the plan – 95.5% of the turnout.

It means the village’s plan will be adopted once ratified by Mid Suffolk District Council in March.

Steve Blackwell, vice-chairman of Debenham Parish Council - which has spent the last seven years drawing up the plan - said: “We are very, very pleased.

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“We were aiming at getting 80-85% support which is what we had seen throughout the life of developing it, so we are absolutely thrilled to see 95%.

“A 58% turnout is pretty good for a referendum as well.

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“It’s been seven years of really hard slog but it makes it all worthwhile.”

Mr Blackwell pointed to the large application of nearly 300 homes submitted by Taylor Wimpey last year – a bid that was ultimately rejected by Mid Suffolk District Council – as an example of why the plan was important.

Parish council chairman Steve Palframan added that the community actions identified during the consultation will now be worked on.

He said: “As a priority, we will be looking at possible solutions to traffic flows and car parking.

“But there are also a number of other important initiatives which the village wants, including a youth building, skate park and swimming pool.

“Furthermore, we need to look closely at new tourism ideas, to enhance the financial stability of the local businesses.”

The neighbourhood plan establishes sites in the village that are suitable and not suitable for development.

Debenham was the third village in Mid Suffolk to have its neighbourhood plan go to referendum, following Mendlesham and Stradbroke.

Stradbroke last week voted 80% in favour of its plan.

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