Overwhelming vote in favour of Rendlesham neighbourhood plan

Referendum on Rendlesham's neighbourhood plan. L-R Carole Brason, Heather Heelis, Victoria Proctor a

Referendum on Rendlesham's neighbourhood plan. L-R Carole Brason, Heather Heelis, Victoria Proctor and Eliza, Kay Nash and Dave Rushbrook. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Suffolk’s first ever Neighbourhood Plan has been given the green light by an overwhelming majority of voters.

Rendlesham became the first village in the county to approve its plan – designed to put development decisions in the hands of local people.

The document will now become part of district planning policy after 97% of voters gave it their backing at referendum.

Neighbourhood plans were introduced through the Localism Act to give communities power to choose where new homes and businesses are built, and the ability to grant planning permission for certain kinds of development.

A total of 1,045 people (47% of those eligible) took part in the referendum – putting Rendlesham just outside the country’s top five places for percentage turnout. It also returned the joint third highest percentage of ‘yes’ votes.

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Rendlesham submitted its plan to Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) last August, having been given ‘front runner’ status by the government in March 2012.

Votes were cast just days after the parish council learned that an appealed bid to demolish the unused Angel Theatre and sports centre, and replace them with 49 new homes, had been dismissed by communities secretary Eric Pickles.

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The plan contains the parish council’s own ambitions to bring both buildings back into use, and is now due to formally accepted by SCDC on March 19.

Dave Rushbrook, chairman of the neighbourhood plan team and parish councillor, said: “This is a momentous day for the people of Rendlesham.

“The neighbourhood plan provides the blueprint for taking forward the aspirations of the village to provide the much needed infrastructure to build a sustainable and vibrant community.”

Kay Nash, parish council chairman, said: “The support shown for the plan at the referendum goes far beyond anything the village has seen before.

“The plan is a tremendous achievement and has brought the village together to work towards a better future and quality of life. This is true localism in action.”

Rendlesham’s annual parish meeting on Tuesday, April 14, will ask ‘What Next for Rendlesham?’. It takes place from 7.30pm at the community centre and will be attended by guest speaker Therese Coffey MP.

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