Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors
In this month’s report:
- Planning and development in the villages
- Renewable energy – can you help?
- Government consults on minimum standards for floor space in homes
- The annual “lullaby” concerts and music workshops
- Should there be an extra tax on large stores and supermarkets?
- Sky lanterns and helium filled balloons
- Empty homes policy
- Thanks and best wishes to Pauline, as Capel greengrocers closes its doors
Planning and development in the villages
Approval has been given to an outline application for up to 24 homes on land next to Pine Dell and Ashcroft on London Road, Capel St. Mary. This is potentially a positive addition to the smaller housing stock in the village with some “affordables” for social rent. The matter was referred from the September committee at Babergh for further responses regarding road safety improvements on the A12 slip road and at the London Road junction. Comments from highways varied from no comment, to: the developer could be asked to consider a safety audit to assess whether the existing road layout was safe for additional traffic, including the safety points raised by us (more and better signage, road markings, an extension to the speed limit and better maintenance and verge trimming to keep signs clear and ensure road visibility.) This was rejected by the applicant. As highways cannot insist on this, they later said it was all safe.
It was agreed at the meeting that we would set up a forum to work with Babergh planners, highways, the parish council, local district ward councillors and a resident of London Road to determine how road safety could be improved in this area.
At the September meeting of the political group leaders, officers made it clear that the Local Plan’s intention to distribute some 1050 homes to “rural areas” – these being the core and hinterland villages – was in fact a minimum target, with no upper limit. The estimate of 100 or so homes for each of the ten villages should not be regarded as a guide figure. There is no attempt to identify potential sites for development. Provided applications meet certain criteria, the National Planning Policy Framework will presume in favour of development. This causes us some concern, but it is important that we raise awareness of this possibility.
Renewable energy – can you help?
Have you had solar photovoltaic panels installed or do you have any specialist knowledge of renewable technologies or energy efficiency measures? We are aiming to run an information day for local people in the New Year and would love it if you could share your experiences or can help in any other way. Please get in touch with us with your ideas and views at either of the email addresses above. Alternatively you can phone us: Sue 01473 311513 Kathy 01473 311384 or drop us a note: Sue – 53 Thorney Road, Capel St. Mary, Ipswich, IP9 2XH; Kathy – 19 The Street, Capel St. Mary, Ipswich IP9 2EE.
Government consults on minimum standards for floor space in homes
Some newspaper headlines have recently referred to “Rabbit Hutch Britain” when talking about the size of properties in the UK. In mainland Europe room sizes are frequently more generous. In response to this national Government has launched a consultation on a set of minimum space standards for new dwellings. Many London authorities have already adopted these. In Babergh we already have minimum standards for social housing, but not for private housing. Research has shown that small properties lead to lack of privacy and even illness. Also there is frequently no room to store possessions. We would be interested in hearing your views on this. Also: “DCLG Housing Standards Review” consultation, August 2013; and “Affordable Housing” Supplementary Planning Document, Babergh Local Plan, February 2014.
A report by Shelter states:
“Shamefully, we build the smallest homes in Western
Europe. In 2011, average new homes in Denmark
were 80% bigger than those in the UK. Even new
homes in Japan were 21% bigger.”
The annual “lullaby” concerts and music workshops
For five years, musicians from the world-class City of London Sinfonia have been delivering a series of workshops at nurseries and pre-schools across Babergh and Mid Suffolk. In total 18 workshops have taken place across both districts including Boxford Primary School, St Mary’s Primary School, Hadleigh and Hadleigh Primary School. The workshops enable children aged two to five years old to see and hear orchestral instruments in their local community. The workshops lead up to a series of ten Lullaby Concerts in five locations across Suffolk, taking place during October half-term. For further details of the concerts, locations and how to buy tickets are available on the Babergh website.
Should there be an extra tax on large stores and supermarkets?
At the September Council, there was a motion requesting a move to add a levy of up to 8.5% of their rateable value on supermarkets and large retail outlets in the area with a rateable annual value not less than £500,000 and for the revenue to be retained by local authorities in order to be used to help improve their local communities. This could affect five stores in Babergh. The matter has been referred to the Strategy committee for consideration at a later date as there was no information about how or where in the District such money could be used. We would be interested to hear your views.
Sky lanterns and helium filled balloons
Babergh Council has voted that where possible, and as a matter of urgency, the launching of lighted sky lanterns and helium filled balloons from all council owned land and property, should be banned. This will also affect event licensing terms. There is increasing concern about release of these lanterns and helium filled latex balloons because of the impacts these can have on the environment, on animal welfare, the fire risk to buildings, property and crops, risk to aviation and impacts on emergency services on land and sea. Helium is a crucial ingredient in MRI machines, wafer manufacture, welding and other processes but is a diminishing and finite resource facing shortages, which also drive up the price.
Empty homes policy
Babergh’s Strategic Plan includes a desired outcome to improve the quality and use of existing private sector housing which we will do by bringing as many of our long term empty homes (greater than 6 months) back into use. Properties become empty for a number of reasons and most are reoccupied within a short period of time. However across Babergh and Mid Suffolk in April 2014 there were 1,100 properties which had been empty for a period of at least 6 months. Many will be empty for longer than they need to be or will not be brought back into use without the provision of advice, support or enforcement action. The Councils have set a target to reduce the number of empty homes by 400 between June 2014 and March 2017. There is a large need and demand for housing in Babergh and Mid Suffolk and empty properties which could otherwise be made available for sale or rent are a wasted resource. In April 2014 there were 2,114 active applications on the housing registers for Babergh and Mid Suffolk. In many cases, the longer a property is left empty the more money it will cost to bring it back into use as the condition of the property deteriorates, making it increasingly difficult for some owners to be able to afford to bring a property back into use and so the property remains empty and continues to deteriorate. The Councils will, through this Policy, offer advice and support to owners of empty homes to enable the properties to be brought back into use. Where owners do not work with the Councils to bring their properties back into use in a reasonable period, enforcement action will be considered.
Thanks and best wishes to Pauline, as Capel greengrocers closes its doors
We would like to express our thanks for the many years of hard work Pauline has put into to serving the community of Capel St Mary and surrounding villages. We wish her a long and happy retirement.