More than 1,500 people visit open all hours online exhibitions #YourFuture #YourSay

Residents are being urged to join more than 1,500 people who have already visited an open all hours virtual exhibition to help form a new Local Plan for West Suffolk.

Local people and organisations have been put at the heart of forming the new Local Plan which will help shape the future of communities and supporting development up to 2040.

Due to Covid-19 the council is looking at new and innovative ways to help people understand the issues and have their say over the 10-week engagement.

As part of this, a virtual exhibition in an online village hall has been set up and this includes a film as well as information boards and documents. The exhibition can be found at https://westsuffolk.exhibition.app/ and already people have been having their say.

The online village hall exhibition never shuts and already 1,590 people have visited it

West Suffolk Council is asking people to have their say on the initial Issues and Options phase which sets the foundations of the formation of the final plan.

There are a range of methods being used to help people learn more and have their say including planning officers being available to talk online via live chat in the virtual exhibition space on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 10am to noon, and 4pm to 6pm, or over the phone on 01284 757368.

The Local Plan helps local communities continue to thrive in the future by setting out where homes will be built and supports, with other council policies where new jobs and other vital facilities are located. All West Suffolk planning decisions are judged against Local Plan policies.

The Local Plan ensures the right number and types of homes are built in the right places and through its policies supports the provision of space for employment, green spaces, education, culture, health and sports facilities.

It also looks at how infrastructure supports this growth and challenges faced in the area, such as climate change.

A local plan is also vital to prevent speculative development that could harm local communities, the countryside, and the environment. It ensures growth is well planned and supports future ambitions for the future.

The process involves three consultation stages with the first being the Issues and Options which started on October 13 and will last for 10 weeks, ending on December 22.

This initial stage which will help shape the plan and the future of West Suffolk as it develops. The Issues and Options consultation also has three parts:

Part One includes a spatial vision, a new draft settlement hierarchy and options for the distribution growth;

Part Two sets out issues in West Suffolk that are particularly relevant to our area, and;

Part Three contains sections for the towns, key service centres, local service centres and villages identified in the new draft settlement hierarchy in part one of the plan. It also includes a new call for sites.

At this first information gathering stage, the council will be consulting and seeking comments on a variety of issues and options. This includes questions such as have we identified the challenges correctly, and relevant local issues, as well whether we have covered all the options for delivering growth.

Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “I would like to thank the hundreds of people who have already visited our online exhibition and encourage others to follow suit and have their say. A good Local Plan is central to the best possible future development of West Suffolk and our communities.

“It is much more than just about where housing and associated facilities may go but will set out how best to support future prosperity and future generations in our area as well as tackling issues such as climate change.

“In short it should help ensure that we get the right kind of development in the right places while protecting our environment. The Local Plan will shape planning and development in West Suffolk up to 2040 which is why it is vital that as many people as possible do have their say. To assist this we are using a range of methods from online exhibitions to webinars and posters, as well as our team being able to chat online with people. It is #YourFuture #YourSay.”

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