Your Parish Council is working to set up an Open Meeting for anyone interested in finding out about Neighbourhood Plans especially in relation to Walsham. This needs to concern you, each and every one of our residents.
The Department for Communities and Local Government booklet about Neighbourhood Planning states “The planning system helps decide what gets built, where and when. It is essential for supporting economic growth, improving people’s quality of life, and protecting the natural environment. In theory, planning was always supposed to give local communities a say in decisions that affect them. But in practice, communities have often found it hard to have a meaningful say. The government wants to put power back in the hands of local residents, employees and business, councils and civic leaders – those who know best the needs of their local areas. Neighbourhood planning is optional, not compulsory. No one has to do it, if they don’t want to. But we think that lots of people will want to take the opportunity, to influence the future of the place where they live or work.”
So, if we want to have some influence over what happens in, and to, our lovely village, we need to work together to produce our plan. This is very necessary at this moment in time as the National Planning Policy Framework requires Local Planning Authorities to identify a 5 year supply of specific deliverable housing sites. NPPF Paragraph 49 states that ‘relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.’ Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils do not have this housing land supply at this time. The NPPF requires that development be sustainable and that adverse impacts do not, in principle, outweigh the benefits. Economic, social and environmental are the strands for sustainable development. “an economic role – contributing to building a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth and innovation; and by identifying and coordinating development requirements, including the provision of infrastructure: a social role – supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by creating a high quality built environment, with accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being; and an environmental role – contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; and, as part of this, helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimise waste and pollution, and mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low carbon economy.”
In the past, planning has been handed down to communities by the Government and our local councils. Decisions have been made remotely. Parish Councils and communities have been little more than pressure groups. While certain aspects of planning will remain at District Council level, we have the opportunity to decide where development in our parish should go and what it should look like. Moreover that plan will carry legal weight. Producing a plan represents a unique opportunity for the village. If there isn’t a plan, there will be a presumption in favour of a development application. We will have lost our voice!
We need residents’ views so that we can properly represent them. We need your local knowledge, any specialist skills, and help to spread the word. Without you, there may not be a plan or there may be one with which you disagree. Use your voice, contribute or lose local control over local issues.
Bill Newman is Babergh/Mid Suffolk ‘Local Plan Man’ as well as Neighbourhood Plan supremo. It was felt that he is the person to give a presentation /overview of what needs to be done, the process of actually doing it and any support available. He is able to offer us two dates in September and we will confirm arrangements with him shortly. So, if you want to find out more information; if you can offer time, local knowledge, expertise, a desire to support your village, please add 8th and 22nd September to your diaries, final date to be confirmed asap.
Maggie Barber, Chair Walsham Parish Council | 01359 259 689
Kevin Boardley | 01359 259 794