Pioneering council wins accolade for excellence

Handing over the finalised Rendlesham Neighbourhood Plan to Suffolk Coastal District Council. Heathe

Handing over the finalised Rendlesham Neighbourhood Plan to Suffolk Coastal District Council. Heather Heelis, Carole Brason, Kay Nash, Dave Rushbrook of Rendlesham Parish Council with Geoff Holdcroft, Terry Eastman and Hilary Hansip of Suffolk Coastal. - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Representatives of a Suffolk village have received national recognition for recent achievements, including a groundbreaking scheme to gain local control over future development.

The last year will go down as one of the most eventful in the history of Rendlesham Parish Council, which became the first in the county to finalise its Neighbourhood Plan – designed to put development decisions in the hands of local people. It also fought off an appealed bid to replace the unused Angel Theatre and sports centre with 49 new homes.

In recognition of its accomplishments, the parish council has been handed the only award for Exceptional Achievement presented by the Local Council Public Advisory Service (LCPAS).

The award recognises parish and town council’s that have gone above and beyond expectations in the service of their community.

Rendlesham’s Neighbourhood Plan become part of district planning policy after 97% of voters gave it their backing at referendum.

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

LCPAS chief executive, Jayne Cole said it had been a “great pleasure” to present the award to Rendlesham Parish Council.

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She added: “This is in recognition, not only of becoming the first Suffolk council to successfully put in place a Neighbourhood Plan, and saving key community assets, achieving an amazing referendum result, but also the fantastic and intelligent way it consults.

“Over the last four years, Rendlesham Parish Council has brought the community together and undertaken projects based on its community’s evidenced needs. The chairman, councillors and staff deserve praise and recognition.”