From Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors
Mid Samford covers the villages of Capel St. Mary, Holton St. Mary, Stratford St. Mary, Little and Great Wenham
In this report:
- Renewable energy technologies
- Suffolk’s energy-from-waste site
- Development of planning policy
- New Anglia’s Strategic Economic Plan
- Community Land Trusts
- 2014 Housing Needs Survey
Renewable energy technologies
Generating energy from renewables is key to the Council’s intention of reducing its carbon emissions. The first phase of a programme to deliver this is the installation of solar photovoltaic panels on suitable council housing. Further phases might include other council owned buildings and private and community buildings. We hope to approve the business case shortly to install an average array of 10 standard, photovoltaic panels on appropriate properties, beginning in June this year. Some 1,250 homes in Babergh are thought to be suitable, and 900 in Mid Suffolk. Including all borrowing costs and maintenance, a 20-year surplus of £7.5m is predicted for the two councils. Tenants’ bills could also reduce by up to £150 per property. 57% of council properties house people in receipt of Housing Benefit – a proxy indicator of known financial issues. Based on currently available figures the scheme could result in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of 1,950 tonnes per year.
Suffolk’s energy-from-waste site has been judged among the best construction sites in the country – winning a silver award under the national Considerate Constructors Scheme.
Under the scheme registered sites are regularly inspected and are rated in five categories. Those who score highly are shortlisted for national recognition – with bronze, silver and gold awards being presented to the top performing 7.5% of sites in the country. Since picking up the silver award in March, the Suffolk site has had another unannounced inspection and again scored highly. It was described as ‘exceptional’ for safety – the site has now clocked up over a million working hours without a reportable accident – protecting the environment and respecting the community; ‘excellent’ for appearance; and ‘very good’ for valuing the workforce.
Development of planning policy
Having approved the Local Plan recently Babergh is now looking to review its planning policy framework to understand how it can deliver the required growth in a timely manner. Of relevance to this Ward, will be how the siting and development of some 1,050 homes in rural areas will come forward and be managed.
New Anglia’s Strategic Economic Plan
A full copy of the plan is available here. Government will be offering £2bn a year funding for six years, available through a “competitive pot” – the Local Growth Fund. The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) can bid for a share of these funds to target their growth priorities. The New Anglia LEP, which covers Suffolk and Norfolk, also has to show how it intends to use the £94m allocated to the area from European Structural Funds. This is now published in New Anglia’s Strategic Economic Plan – “more jobs, more businesses and more prosperity” focusing particularly on those sectors with the greatest potential for economic growth.
We have some world class capabilities, great natural assets and competitive advantage in our location. The five top sectors with key assets but where growth would not occur “naturally” are: energy – including low carbon; advanced manufacturing and engineering; food and agri-tech; life sciences; and ICT and digital creative. The challenges to be dealt with include an ageing transport network, poor broadband and mobile coverage, slow business growth rates with low productivity and low skills levels. Jobs and homes are strongly linked, with the A14 seen as the most significant growth corridor. New Anglia are bidding for £413m to carry out a range of activity to support the drive for growth. Infrastructure local to us will be major improvements to the A12/A14 interchange at Copdock and improvements to the A12 south of Capel St Mary.
Community Land Trusts
How can communities provide homes which will meet the future needs of their village? Until recently there have been a number of approaches to building new homes including:
- Wait for a developer to come forward with speculative developments – which often has resulted in larger properties which do not meet the needs either of young families or people who want to downsize, say to a bungalow or flat.
- Carry out an extensive housing needs survey in order to assess whether rented accommodation is needed. This would then be followed up by an approach to a housing association who would build the required number of units. Schemes are currently underway or are being built in nearby villages like Copdock and Hintlesham using this approach.
An alternative is for the community to acquire land via a Community Land Trust. The community can then decide what will be built. The basic principles are that the trust will:
- Be a non profit organisation, led and run by local volunteers
- Lock in community assets in perpetuity
- Provide housing for local people
More details can be found on the Community Land Trust website www.clteast.org
There is also a national website.
A scheme is currently progressing in Lavenham which aims to provide affordable housing for local people as well as meeting the property needs of older people.
2014 Housing Needs Survey
For the first time local authorities in Suffolk are taking a collaborative approach to a housing needs survey. This will provide information about the factors that influence householder housing choices, and will identify in general terms the need for specialist housing e.g. for disabled residents and those with long term conditions requiring care.
A sample of around 25% of households will be targeted in each area. There will also be an opportunity for anyone to complete the questionnaire online. The printed survey will be sent to over 80,000 households across Suffolk and will include a prepaid envelope.
If you haven’t received a survey and would like to take part then click here.