Key blueprint for 17,000 new Suffolk homes to be examined
- Credit: ANDREW HENDRY
A key document which will inform where 17,000 new houses will be built for two Suffolk districts over the next 16 years has been submitted to the government for examination.
The joint local plan for Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils effectively maps out areas considered suitable for development, the key types of homes needed and infrastructure upgrades required up to 2037.
The plan, which eyes 17,000 new homes over its lifetime, has been in development since 2016 and has now been submitted to the secretary of state for examination.
That process will see the Planning Inspectorate assess whether it is sound or if changes are needed, and considers submissions by both the councils and members of the public who have responded to it.
Public hearings are likely to take place from the summer, although a firm date has not yet been given and will be publicised six weeks beforehand.
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Tom Barker, assistant director for sustainable communities at the two councils said: “This is a significant milestone for our councils and I would like to thank all those involved in the process so far, including our councillors, communities, officers, and other stakeholders.
"Following both councils opting to prepare a joint local plan in 2016, careful consideration has been given to how the districts will balance the delivery of housing growth, important infrastructure, and essential employment, while safeguarding our natural and historic environment until 2037."
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He added: "Public feedback has been reflected in the final version of the plan, which outlines how and where future development should take place – enabling Government housing targets to be met, whilst also supporting the councils’ ambition to build thriving communities."
Local plans carry increasing amounts of weight in deciding on planning applications, and can be a highly effective means of blocking speculative or unsuitable developments.
The original timeline had been for the plan to be adopted in February 2020, meaning work is more than a year behind the initial schedule, however additional circumstances in the last two years such as the 2019 snap General Election, changes to national planning policy and the Covid-19 pandemic had all hindered progress too.
Councillors last considered the plan in November where approval was given for it to progress, however fresh concerns were raised then over the concentration of homes along the A14 corridor and changes to some of the land allocations which did not reflect those expressed by some communities in their own neighbourhood plans.