21 June 2019
Greens unable to support Joint Local Plan as villages’ plans ignored
Green Party councillors at Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils have withdrawn their intended support for the draft Joint Local Plan due to a failure to take account of communities clearly expressed preferences and work, especially on Neighbourhood Plans in a number of villages.
Group leader councillor Rachel Eburne said:
“Neighbourhood Plan groups have worked for years to meet all the stringent requirements of Government and Mid Suffolk to produce blue-prints with land allocated for new housing, while protecting what is most valued. In several villages we have looked at in the few hours since the mapped District proposals have been made available, we can see little or no attempt to achieve conformity between Neighbourhood and District plans. The allocations which have achieved public support in local referendums must be respected by the District. This last-minute disagreement could have been avoided if those of us elected to represent local views and knowledge had been allowed to discuss the allocation maps up-front; but we were not.”
The Greens are concerned that there may be several more similar failings yet to be found in the almost 500 pages of the draft plan, to be released for public consultation if approved by both Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils. next week.
Rachel Eburne, who leads a group of 12 Mid Suffolk councillors, continued:
"We need to get the public consultation underway after so many delays, but cannot support a document which flouts the basic guidance of the National Planning Policy Framework that Neighbourhood Plans must conform to District Plans. There was a need for pre-scrutiny by councillors.“
Longest-serving councillor Andrew Stringer added:
“It appears the proposals maps contained within this draft plan are proof if it were needed that for some communities the Administration of Mid Suffolk has not only not listened to their wishes but it seems for some communities they have declared war! We can now see why the conservatives were so desperate to delay the publishing of these plans until after the recent local elections. Suggesting that rural communities should for instance build housing on their playing fields, ignore the use of brownfield sites, and deliberately choose areas of high visual and wildlife benefit simply beggars belief. This would not be so bad if those elected to represent these areas could have had a say in what sites came forward. We were sent these draft plans last thing on Friday, and since then we have pleaded for these documents not to be published in their present state due to the damage this document will cause to the reputation of Mid Suffolk District Council.”
The Green groups want to get working on a set of changes to more fully respond to the climate and biodiversity emergency, but this has been deferred while the dispute is resolved. They will be supporting many improved policies, but will aim to match the Suffolk County Council's goal of zero carbon by 2030 and the United Nations call for declining CO2 emissions by 2030.
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