Greens question value of Neighbourhood Plans

17 September 2020


Following over-ruling of Thurston’s Neighbourhood Plan by Mid Suffolk’s Planning Committee, Green councillors have questioned the value of the huge voluntary effort and money expended on producing the Plans.
The decision against the parish council which sought to defend its’ Neighbourhood Plan (NP) followed similar planning approvals in Stowupland and Mendlesham which each allowed development outside settlement boundary defined by the locals. The Thurston NP, was adopted as policy by Mid Suffolk after examination by a Government inspector and a referendum at which 95% of locals voted in support. Despite this, the committee voted by 10 votes to 4 to allow Gladman Homes to build 210 houses on a field off Ixworth Road.

Councillor Andrew Stringer, a member of the committee and Green Group shadow for Planning, said:

“We are seeing the demise of neighbourhood plans as a respected part of the decision-making process, a far cry from the rhetoric about giving control of development to local communities. In this case the development was made more attractive thanks to improvements gained after earlier committee resistance to the scheme. Council planners and members need to be more robust in protecting local communities by refusing poor development which lacks infrastructure or is in the wrong place.”

Councillor Andy Mellen told the committee

"Neighbourhood plan volunteers, who have put in many hours of work to produce these plans, may well be wondering why they have bothered."

Wendy Turner, Green Party councillor for the village, said afterwards:
“It is so disappointing after all the work on our neighbourhood plan, which was realistic in accepting that the village would expand greatly, to see it brushed aside to meet arbitrary house numbers that we have 16 years to gradually accommodate.”

About Neighbourhood Plans
Residents were asked :
"Do you want Mid Suffolk District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Thurston to help it decide planning applications in the Neighbourhood Plan Area?"
and voted 95% in favour.


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