West Suffolk Local Plan recommended to council for consultation

The next stage of the West Suffolk Local Plan is set to get the go ahead later this month when West Suffolk Council meet to recommend the move.

The document will guide how and where new homes and employment will be built to the year 2040.

Members of the council’s cabinet last night (December 5) agreed to recommend the submission stage draft of the plan for consultation.

The council will be asked to approve this when it meets on December 19. Subject to that approval, the submission draft would then go out to consultation early next year.

The West Suffolk Local Plan will allocate sites for 5,211 new homes alongside 9,075 homes that already have planning permission and a windfall allowance of 1,200 homes. The total number it needs to deliver over the plan period is 13,702 but the local plan deliberately over allocates to allow for flexibility over the plan period.

Policies to deliver more affordable homes and sustainable housing through measures including solar panels on roofs wherever practically possible, feature in the latest draft plan.

If adopted, the local plan will also require a proportion of new homes to be more accessible so that they can be adapted to people’s changing health needs. That in turn will mean people can stay longer living in their own homes which is not only better for them and their families but also reduces the impact on health and social care. Policies also include introducing space standards for rooms and gardens for all new homes.

Once adopted the local plan will ensure funding from developers is secured to pay for infrastructure such as money toward education provision, highways, footpaths and cycleways.

The local plan also makes provision for 86 hectares for employment growth.

By allocating land for much needed housing and employment for West Suffolk’s growing communities, the plan also protects other areas such as the countryside from harmful, speculative development and it ensures that residents and elected councillors continue to have a public voice and a say on planning applications submitted to the council.

There are several stages of public consultation that a draft local plan must go through in its preparation. These are set out by government. The draft West Suffolk Local Plan completed its first stage issues and options public consultation in 2020, followed by the preferred options consultation in 2022.

The submission stage draft builds on the evidence from hundreds of representations received in these two previous rounds of public consultation.

This third round of consultation is different, however, in that it will form more of a legal test of the plan to check it ahead of submitting to the Secretary of State.

A government appointed planning inspector will then hold an examination in public before the plan finally comes back to council to adopt.

Jim Thorndyke, cabinet member for Planning, said: “This local plan is about the people that we are elected to serve. It’s about our growing communities and ensuring that as peoples’ children or grandchildren grow up they can find a home of their own. The local plan will also ensure a good supply of housing to meet predicted housing and employment growth in West Suffolk.

“The local plan allocates sites for employment growth. This is important to ensure there is land to expand for existing businesses helping retain jobs in our area as well as encouraging the growth of new businesses and attracting others to our area all of which is important for the future of our local economy.”

“This latest draft builds on the evidence from the first two consultations as well as the insight and input from councillors across the political landscape who have worked through the detail with me in a working group. We have a strong and robust draft local plan and I am pleased that cabinet has agreed to recommend it to council for consultation approval later this month.”

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