Needham Market votes in favour of blueprint featuring new homes

Needham Market 2010EADT 23.7.12

A vision for the future of Needham Market has been agreed. Many changes have already happened in the decade since this aerial image was captured - Credit: Mike Page

People in Needham Market have voted in an overwhelming majority to adopt a new blueprint for the future of the town.

The referendum on the Needham Market Neighbourhood Plan, which took place last Thursday (February 24), returned a 92.71% yes vote, with 988 ballots collected.

A neighbourhood plan gives communities the ability to help develop a vision for their area in the form of a document that carries statutory weight and will be used to make decisions on planning applications. 

The plan will identify opportunities for growth - including new homes and jobs-creating businesses - but also looks at how to deal with problems such as traffic, and how to protect the history and heritage of the town.  

From L to R: Paul Ekpenyong, Suzie Morley, Gerard Brewster and Harry Richards

A number of new housing developments have been completed in the town in recent years - Credit: Gregg Brown Photography and Mid Suffolk District Council

While each neighbourhood plan is different, Needham Market's has 10 key policy areas:

Encouraging safe walking and cycling;

Reducing and managing the impact of traffic;

The historic town centre and conservation area;

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Preserving the town's setting and retention of important views;

Community infrastructure;

Redevelopment opportunities in the town centre;

Reinforcing the town centre vitality and viability;

Encouraging commercial activity and employment opportunities;

Securing good design and layout;

Housing mix;

Needham Market High Street

Now adopted, the Neighbourhood Plan will be used when decisions are made around planning applications in Needham Market. - Credit: Archant

One area that the plan touches on is the gap between Needham Market and nearby Stowmarket. The plan says that policies are in place "preventing the two becoming joined up by further development in the gap between the two settlements and this ambition for Needham Market to remain self-contained and provide for the economic and social needs of its residents, is still relevant to this Neighbourhood Plan".

The plan also outlines the number of houses that are deemed appropriate for the town supporting 512 new homes during the plan period up to 2037 as part of the emerging Babergh Mid Suffolk Joint Local Plan.

Library manager Donna Grand. Needham Market's new library has opened

Library manager Donna Grand. Needham Market's new library has opened on the former Middle School site. PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Following community consultation, the plan has also outlined what types of houses will be targeted in any future developments. The plan says there will be a focus on "housing for older people, smaller and larger family housing both market and affordable, adaptable 'lifetime' homes and self-build" properties.

Sustainability is also discussed in the housing section of the plan, with measures like "accessible electric charging points" being required for all new developments, as well as "suitable infrastructure capable of allowing superfast broadband connections".

There is plenty of wildlife to be seen at Needham Lake in Needham Market

There is plenty of wildlife to be seen at Needham Lake in Needham Market - Credit: Julie Potter

The news of Needham Market's referendum comes at a time when the power of Neighbourhood Plans has been highlighted after a scheme for 210 homes in Thurston was quashed by a High Court judge.

Thurston Parish Council alleged that district council committee members had been wrongly advised on the weight given to the Neighbourhood Plan, which had not allocated that particular site for development.

Needham Market Town Council said: "Needham Market Town Councillors are immensely grateful for the support given by townspeople in their voting to adopt the Needham Market Neighbourhood Plan.

"The creation of the Needham Market Neighbourhood Plan started in late 2013 and it has been a long and sometimes torturous journey in getting to where we are today.

Land off Barking Road in Needham Market where plans have been lodged for 279 homes

Land off Barking Road in Needham Market where plans have been lodged for 279 homes - Credit: Google Maps

"Throughout the creation process of the Neighbourhood Plan, the local community has shown great interest in the development of the plan, ensuring that, through regular and meaningful consultation, the final plan represents the community’s view."

The Needham Market Neighbourhood Plan says: "The driver for the Neighbourhood Plan was to give residents a voice in the sustainable development of the town, by building a plan that is inclusive, innovative and bespoke to the needs of the town.

"The plan is based on providing the housing and jobs required by the town’s local community and preserving unique and positive features that residents value.

A Multi Use Games Area will also be built at Crowley Park in Needham Market

A Multi Use Games Area will also be built at Crowley Park in Needham Market, people will be able to play various sports including netball and basketball - Credit: Wicksteed Parks

"It promotes community cohesion and develops a framework for economic, social and environmental sustainability."

The plan will be in place until 2037, with formal reviews alongside Mid Suffolk District Council and the local community every five years.

The full Needham Market Neighbourhood Plan can be found here.