From District Councillors: Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard
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Babergh’s 20 year planning blueprint ready for approval
Babergh’s “Core Strategy” document is now ready to be adopted by the council after it was approved by the Planning Inspectorate. Within the document, which covers the period 2011 -2031, there is a commitment that development in rural villages must be proportionate to the current size of each settlement. Sixty percent of the development will be in urban areas, namely Sudbury, Hadleigh and Pinewood, with the rest spread around larger villages in the District.
A working group is to be set up to look at additional planning policy documents which will be needed to supplement the Core strategy. These will include design guidelines for housing development, affordable housing, rural growth, sustainability, gypsy and traveller transit/short stay provision and design guidance and policies on wind turbines and solar farms. Plans will also need to be developed for strategic sites like the former sugar beet factory at Sproughton and industrial land at Brantham.
National planning guidance also requires that adjacent authorities must cooperate with each other on planning issues. For example Babergh council has recently agreed to appoint councillors to an Ipswich policy area board, as development in and around Ipswich affects Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal Districts.
The delay in bringing the Core Strategy to Council for adoption was largely caused by the application for development at Brantham. A further inspection was required. We have now received the Inspector’s report, which confirms that the Core Strategy, as modified, provides an appropriate basis for the District’s planning over the next 20 years.
Recent major planning applications:
(a) HMS Ganges – Further progress can now be made towards granting of planning permission for a mixed-use development on the HMS Ganges site, in Shotley, after a Government ‘stop’ on the issue of any planning permission has been lifted. Developer Haylink Ltd had its planning application approved by Babergh District Council’s Planning Committee in November last year (subject to the completion of the legal agreement). The scheme seeks to regenerate the area by building 285 homes, a 60-bed nursing home and a hotel, as well as retail and commercial buildings. But, in December last year, Babergh was advised by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that no planning permission could be issued until the Department had completed its consideration of the matter and issued its decision about whether to “call in” the application for determination by the Secretary of State. We now know that there will be no “call in” and Babergh will be able to determine this matter locally. The former HMS Ganges site has been the subject of numerous planning applications over the years whilst the condition of buildings on the site has deteriorated. There is now a real opportunity for a mixed-use development to take place here, which could do much to improve the condition of the site and its buildings, and would also help to improve housing supply and the local economy.
However, there are significant caveats and very real local concerns about access and traffic through all the villages along the route to Wherstead. Local opposition is strong. Challenges have also been made, based on the fact that a development on this scale appears to be in direct contradiction to the policy not to develop hinterland villages and provides no affordable housing. The development of this site remains highly controversial and contested.
(b) Prolog, Sudbury – A long running application for a large development in Sudbury of a key employer has now been approved and could provide up to 500 new jobs. There was local opposition to the development and representations from Consultees but Members carefully considered that the public benefits of job creation outweighed the harm to the setting of Listed Buildings and the environment.
Solar power initiative for council properties
Despite what you may have read in the East Anglian Daily Times (EADT), whilst Babergh is investigating the possibility of installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to its council housing stock, we are some way yet from any firm proposals. There are a great many issues to be considered, but we will keep you posted as and when there is any progress.
Also in the EADT, and equally misleading, an item based on two separate interviews with council leaders Jennie Jenkins (Babergh and Derrick Haley (Mid Suffolk) regarding the process and long-term options for meeting the councils’ changing accommodation needs. Whilst most of the reporting was fine, a rogue opening paragraph seemed to suggest that Cllr Jenkins was actively calling for a location for any future headquarters to be by the A14. The attempt to summarise the issue was done badly and inaccurately.
Women’s Cycle Tour
On Sunday 11th May, Stage 5 of the Women’s Cycle Tour will be coming through this area. The race will be starting in Harwich and finishing in Bury St Edmunds, passing through Holton St Mary. The Tour is a five day women’s elite International stage race with Suffolk having been chosen to host the final stage. This event will be attracting the very best riders in the world including: Olympic and World champions, spearheaded by our British Olympic champions – Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Lizzie Armitstead. The event will be televised nationally.
The Women’s Tour brings with it some significant local benefits which could include:
- A unique free-to-attend event for the host villages and towns on route.
- A significant impact on the local economy and businesses.
- Increased Tourist days.
- Promotion and marketing to Regional and National audiences.
- A key platform to promote cycling as a ‘green’ sport and mode of transport, complimenting existing physical activity and cycling event programmes.
- An opportunity to engage communities, schools and businesses in pre-event / on the day programmes.
Further, confirmed details will be available nearer the time but schools, communities and businesses may want to take advantage of this advanced notice to think about possible responses locally.
Babergh’s performance against targets
Babergh’s strategy committee has recently discussed the half year performance figures from April to September 2013. The following targets are being met:
- Collection of business rates
- Percentage of major planning applications determined within 13 weeks
- Percentage of household waste collected, recycled and composted (43%)
- Increase the number of garden collection (brown bin) customers. Target 20% but this has been exceeded as one on 4 households now have a brown bin.
- Average time to re-let council houses
The following targets are not being met:
- Percentage of minor planning applications determined within 8 weeks, but this is improving and there is only a small difference between the target and the actual outcome
- Average time taken to process new housing and council tax benefit claims. This has been caused mainly by changes to the benefits scheme introduced in April 2013. Applicants don’t always supply the required information which is causing delays. Online applications, on the other hand, are being dealt with immediately, as all the required information is supplied.