Concerns that green spaces could be under threat from developers
PUBLISHED: 05:30 01 July 2020
Councillors in Woodbridge have raised serious concerns about changes to East Suffolk Council’s local plan and the impact this could have on the town.
The local plan looks at planning policy within the former Suffolk Coastal District area and covers the period 2018-2036.
A final version of the plan has recently been unveiled, with changes to some of the policies including one which covers areas to be protected, which has concerned Woodbridge Town Council.
In the first draft of the plan, a number of areas of Woodbridge were covered by this policy; including areas around Woodbridge School and the Seckford Almshouses.
The policy would have meant that development here would be “severely restricted to maintain the character of the area”.
However, the policy has now been cut from the local plan completely following the recommendations from the Planning Inspectorate.
The Planning Inspectorate told East Suffolk Council that it needed to provide more evidence to justify the retention of the policy for the areas specified in the plan.
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Woodbridge Town Council has been advised that a Neighbourhood Plan could be used to protect some green areas.
Woodbridge, unlike surrounding villages like Melton and Martlesham, does not currently have a Neighbourhood Plan and the Town Council believes that it does not have time to put one in place in time.
Chairman of Woodbridge Town Council’s planning committee, Sharon Miller, said: “In not investing the resources to provide the evidence required to support the retention of this important policy, East Suffolk Council have abdicated their responsibility to the residents of Woodbridge.
“East Suffolk Council have previously been advised by the Planning Inspectorate that this evidence was required but have wilfully failed to divert resources to this matter, so that important green areas at the heart of Woodbridge are now open to development.
“We will be seeking an extension of time for East Suffolk to fully address the deletion of policy 11.9 and other important changes raised in the consultation.”
A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said: “The consultation on Main Modifications forms a usual part of the Local Plan Examination process and sets out the changes that the Inspector considers are likely to be required in order for the Plan to be found sound.
“In responding to the Inspector’s post hearings letter of January 2020, the Council considered that the most appropriate way forward is to accept the removal of the policy and to make use of other policies (such as policies on design quality and residential amenity).
“The current consultation, which runs until 5pm on 10th July, provides an opportunity for comments to be submitted on the proposed Main Modifications and these will be forwarded to the Inspector for his consideration before he finalises his conclusions.”
The local plan is due to be presented for adoption in September.
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