April 2015 report to Mid Samford parishes

Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors

In this edition

  • A12 update
  • National recognition for quality of life in Babergh
  • More from the Suffolk Housing Survey
  • Food enterprise zones
  • Brantham Regeneration Area and the Ganges site at Shotley
  • “All-out” elections at Babergh

A12 update

The road works are scheduled to continue for a while longer – the latest prediction is sometime around the end of May. After many complaints from residents and from the County and District Councillors, the Highways Agency offered us a guided tour of the overnight diversions. A key aggravation has been the unpredictable closure of carriageways – different timings from those advertised and a lack of signage, which has confounded local people as well as strangers. We have all made our views about this very clear, so we hope that Martin’s, the traffic management contractors, have now received and understood the message. We also pushed the concerns about the appallingly dangerous and sub-standard junctions on and off the A12 this side of the Essex border.

Our return journey from Copdock southbound on this tour was a very interesting escorted drive right through the works themselves, to show us the scale and complexity – a non-stop sequence over a long stretch of existing roadway firstly being dug up, then other sets of contractors following, putting down separate layers of new surfacing, and after them the white liners and the cats’ eyes contractors. There are many organisations involved in activities which have to be co-ordinated, and they can each be affected differently by weather conditions and unexpected issues with the old road construction. They all have a knock-on effect. Whilst most of us think it’s been a mild winter, there has been heavy rain at times and many overnight frosts which have impacted on the speed at which these activities can progress – hence the delay. Sue was also interviewed by Radio Suffolk about the frustrations drivers have had to put up with. Hopefully, once it is all finished, we shall be pleased with the quality of the outcome.

National recognition for quality of life in Babergh

In the annual Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey, released at the end of March, Babergh has been recognised as the 11th best rural place to live in Britain – with Mid Suffolk ranking 20th. This is a national survey that monitors the quality of life in rural areas and recognises the best places to live in the UK. Babergh has moved from 41st to 11th in just 12 months. The survey tracks where living standards are highest in Great Britain by taking a wide range of factors into account, including residents’ health and life expectancy, crime rate, weather, employment, school results, broadband access, and personal wellbeing. The survey also examines all 119 rural local authority districts and is based on data at local authority district (LAD) level.

The success in this survey closely follows Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s achievements in another “Quality of Life” survey. The two districts were the only ones from Suffolk and north Essex to have reached the top 50 with Babergh achieving 24th and Mid Suffolk earning 45th position in the rankings. Babergh’s best scores were for life satisfaction, where it was ranked in the top 10. It did especially well in that section’s sub-categories for residents’ happiness and feelings of self-worth, according to figures from the national census. Mid Suffolk scored well for its employment rate of 79.1% and low traffic level figures. Its burglary rate was also one of the lowest in the country.

More from the Suffolk Housing Survey

Details are beginning to emerge from this survey. Residents of Babergh ‘love to live’ in Suffolk, are well settled and the vast majority wish to continue living here – (a reflection of the Halifax results.) Nearly two-thirds of us have been in our current home for over five years, with Sudbury and Hadleigh the top two housing destinations in the District. However, affordability is a major issue because of the local house price/income ratio. This especially impacts on new and forming households of all ages and tenure types, whether owner occupiers or private rental, but most of the newly forming households are single adults without children. These are most commonly children of an existing household; not all are young, the range is from 18 – 40 years of age. A small but important minority is concerned about current housing affecting health. Households looking to move generally want two- or three-bedroomed properties and would prefer existing homes, though a quarter of us would consider new build to benefit from energy efficiencies and lower maintenance costs. The Capel St Mary survey area had the highest return rate within Babergh!

Food enterprise zones

Babergh and Mid Suffolk recently submitted bids to the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to begin the process of becoming designated Food Enterprise Zone/s (FEZ/s). These zones are Government-backed schemes that aim to make it easier for food and farming businesses to grow, especially in rural areas.

Both Councils are delighted to have been named by DEFRA as two of the six new zones to be created across the country. They are the Orwell Food Cluster in Babergh – which includes Jimmy’s Farm, the Suffolk Food Hall and Wherstead Park (home to the East of England Co-op); and also the Gipping Valley Food Cluster in Mid Suffolk, a smaller area that includes Mill Lane, Stowmarket. Initially there is a grant of £50,000 for each council to set up Local Development Orders which will allow some specific developments to take place without needing planning permission. These will be limited to food, drink and agricultural activities only, but this includes food manufacturing, processing and transportation as well as retailing. This should make it easier for food businesses to start up, or expand, promoting growth and jobs in our local economy, and especially encourage niche or artisan scale development. It will also attract new inward investment into the area.

Brantham Regeneration Area and the Ganges site at Shotley

The major application for development at Brantham has been registered by Babergh – it is part of the regeneration area and a priority for the retention and development of employment uses as well as housing. Policy CS10 expects that a Master Plan will be prepared to provide for these as well as additional open space and improvements for pedestrians and cyclists. This is a substantial application, the many documents for which can be found on Babergh’s website.

The major application to develop the old Ganges site has also now received planning permission, along with a large development at Holbrook. These are important projects towards delivering homes in Babergh, but there are concerns about the traffic pressures that will result on the poor roads in and out of the whole area.

“All-out” elections at Babergh

Most people will be aware that there are at least two separate elections taking place on May 7th – in many areas there will be three, including parish councils. New legislation introduced by the out-going Coalition Government has stipulated that, short of exceptional circumstances, General Elections will now take place five-yearly on the first Thursday in May.

As we are now in a period of “pre-election purdah” we shall not be citing our Babergh email addresses at the foot of this report, but having reported to you monthly during this Council, hopefully you will know how to contact us if you wish to. We hope that you have found our reports of use and interest, and that we have helped to keep you informed of events at Babergh.

SUE CARPENDALE sue.carpendale@outlook.com  KATHY POLLARD kathy.pollard@btinternet.com

Published and promoted by E Da Costa, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, all at 16 Two Acres, Capel St. Mary, Ipswich IP9 2XP

Liberal Democrat achievements in Government

The British economy is improving and it’s also worth remembering all the achievements the Lib Dems have succeeded in making, in spite of being in coalition with the Tories. Click here for a full list but here are a few highlights:

  • Raising the tax threshold means that 25.4 million people will receive a tax cut of £800
  • 1.5m apprenticeships have been created since 2010 – that’s 78% more than in the same period under Labour
  • The pupil premium is giving an extra £1300 a year for each eligible primary school pupil and £935 for each eligible secondary school pupil
  • The state pension has once again been linked to earnings. Pensioners will receive on average £15,000 more over the course of their retirement
  • Richest pay a fairer share – someone earning £1m a year will pay £381,000 more during the 5 years of this Parliament than during the last 5 years of the Labour government.

February report to Mid Samford parishes

From District Councillors: Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard

sue.carpendale@babergh.gov.uk  kathy.pollard@babergh.gov.uk

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.

Council Headquarters

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.

Our natural Suffolk heritage v wind turbines?

The Daily Telegraph has reported on a landmark legal case brought by East Northants District Council. Plans for four 300ft wind turbines on the Duke of Gloucester’s Barnham estate, were passed by an inspector in April last year. This decision is now being contested by the council in court.

The plans were put forward by West Coast Energy. The report from the Planning Inspectorate states:

The inspectorate had concluded the presence of the turbines “would not erode a reasonable observer’s understanding or appreciation of the significance of the designated heritage assets – and they would therefore have no harmful impact on their settings”.

What concerns me most is that current planning law affords little or no protection from either wind turbines or new rows of electricity pylons. The major debating point in this court case will be whether the requirement to produce renewable energy is allowed to outweigh our natural and built environment.

So here’s the question – why is it that giant wind turbines (or pylons) can be erected in the middle of the countryside when the same planning inspectorate would not allow a 30 storey office or apartment block in the same location? 

The two 430 ft high turbines planned by Partnership for Renewables will dwarf the Orwell Bridge. The company has refused to put up a blimp which would allow local people to assess the impact of the proposals. The photomontages provided at their recent exhibitions were completely inadequate. Photographs were carefully massaged so that large trees close to the camera conveniently hid the scale of the turbines. And there was no photomontage with a high viewpoint, looking down from Pinewood or Belstead Hills.

I have previously stated that I am not against wind turbines per se – but they have to be in the right place. In my opinion on fields between Ipswich and Belstead/Wherstead is not the right place. They are far too close to housing. Also there are other means of generating electricity from renewables. Let’s investigate those. Otherwise we will see a further industrialisation of the countryside in Suffolk – in addition to the new row of pylons planned by National Grid.

The contribution of these two wind turbines is miniscule in comparison with the output from the offshore Greater Gabbard windfarm. Each of the turbines will produce 2.5MW of electricity. Greater Gabbard turbines produce a total of 504MW. Are they worth the expense and anguish? PfR’s November newsletter gives details of proposed locations.

Wind turbine controversy in Belstead

I went to a packed meeting of local residents on Sunday 30th September. It was standing room only at Pinewood Community Hall where the audience heard from campaigners against the two proposed wind turbines. These would be sited on the Belstead/Wherstead border and will be visible from Pinewood and Belstead Hills in Ipswich.

Local people are understandably very worried about noise and visual disturbance. The East Anglian Daily Times ran an article with a poll on whether the wind turbines should be built.

The meeting also heard from two Kessingland residents who had initially supported the wind turbine adjacent to their community. However now they realise they wish they had opposed the application as they say the noise and flicker are causing them distress and depression. They are campaigning to have the turbine switched off and have a website here.

 The Stop Ipswich Turbines (SIT) website is here  Ipswich Borough own the land on which the proposed wind turbines will be sited and SIT are currently organising a petition which they hope to present to the Borough Council. The land is actually in Babergh District, who will make the planning decision.

Pylons route will blight Suffolk countryside

National Grid’s decision to underground only a quarter of the pylon route from Bramford to Twinstead is extremely disappointing. Pylons were introduced in the 1960s – 60 years ago. It beggars belief that they are still taking the same approach to electricity transmission more than half a century later.

The twelve miles of new overhead lines which will be built as a result of their decision will blight both countryside and communities along its route. The story is covered in today’s East Anglian Daily Times and some route details are given on National Grid’s website. I and my Lib Dem colleagues have opposed the overground option from the start.

Visit Suffolk’s “Green” buildings 8th-11th Sep

The Suffolk Green Buildings Network are taking part in English Heritage’s Open Days 2011. A range of buildings are open to the public between 8th to 11th September and the brochure is attached: Heritage Open Day leaflet

You can visit a number of private homes including a 19th century cottage in Ipswich. Other venues include the HQ of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the iconic waterfront building of University Campus Suffolk, West Suffolk House in Bury St. Edmunds  and the Mill Green Brewery in Edwardstone. Some need to be booked in advance and full details are in the attached brochure and on their website.

Bramford to Twinstead pylons latest

Last week I attended a briefing for councillors who represent areas affected by the four possible corridors for £400kv overhead power lines. It is hard not to be cynical that the consultations don’t really make any difference. Cost is the main consideration, we keep being told. The environment is clearly a minor consideration. And this from a company which made £2.2 bn profit last year and is aiming to raise a further £3.2bn from shareholders to spend on “adapting the UK’s power networks for renewable sources of energy”. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/10129932.stm

Both here and in Somerset National Grid have been told they must give more details of the costings for options other than overhead lines. This means they will not be able to announce a preferred corridor until the Autumn of this year. If Corridor 2 is chosen then there will be further consultation on options 2a, 2b or 2c.

They told us that undergrounding through the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty would cost £52.75m for 2.4km. That, they said, is 14.6 times more expensive than overhead cables. By comparison they gave the total cost of the overhead line as £45m. This is approximately £1.5m per kilometre. I gained the distinct impression that undergrounding would only be considered under duress. For example they had a section of overhead line turned down in North Yorkshire by the planning inspector. They then had to underground that section. It seems unlikely therefore that they will only underground lines under duress, even in the most sensitive landscape areas.

They also gave details of costings for an undersea option. They had looked at a connection between Sizewell and Rayleigh. The maximum capacity cable is 1000 megawatts and they would need several of them. Converter stations would be required at each end at £800m each. These converter stations are apparently the same size as a B&Q store. The circuits themselves would each cost £200m. Also there are no circuit breakers yet in existence for High Voltage DC. These costs and technical constraints seem to rule out an undersea option in the short term. However no doubt costs will fall and technology will improve – but not in time for this upgrade, unfortunately.

When they asked if they were designing in enough capacity for the 7.2GW of offshore licences which have been granted they said they assumed that not all would go ahead. If they did all go ahead there would be insufficient capacity. So we could be looking at even more power lines within the next 10 to 20 years.

Details of upcoming events below:

Meeting for Parish Councils 9th June Hadleigh 

Public Information events  15th June Hadleigh, 16th June Bildeston, 7th July Hintlesham

Leaflets will be distributed by National Grid throughout the area.

Sizewell Dry Fuel Store

The problem of what to do with nuclear waste raised its ugly head at Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet meeting today. The ponds which house spent fuel rods at Sizewell are reaching capacity and there is still no long term site for nuclear waste disposal, so the waste must be stored locally. Spent rods are to be encased in concrete and housed in a secure building at least 5 metres above sea level. This is to ensure the site is not flooded within the next 10,000 years!

And that is the nub of the nuclear legacy. Decommissioning and the management of spent fuel rods and other radioactive waste has already cost the UK £73bn according to some reports (see

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/The_Real_Cost_of_Nuclear_Power.php). The management of Sellafield alone costs the nation £3bn per year. That is a huge financial commitment and is part of the reason why my party is anti nuclear power. The public has paid out massive subsidies to the nuclear power industry over many years.

Those who are opposed to windpower may be surprised to learn that the Greater Gabbard windfarm off Lowestoft will have more generating capacity than the proposed new twin nuclear reactors at Sizewell. And windfarms will not leave a deadly legacy.

The Cabinet’s decision on the fuel store will now be determined by the new Secretary of State, Lib Dem Chris Huhne. We want to ensure that if this does go ahead, the community benefits for the foreseeable future. We will be writing to Chris Huhne and Suffolk County Council with our suggestions.