Update on A12 roadworks

I have just received this message today from Anna Graham of Highways England (formerly Highways Agency)

“I am writing to provide an update on the resurfacing works between Junctions 33 (Copdock) and 31 (East Bergholt). We have so far laid 11,227 tonnes of surfacing material. The areas of safety barrier and drainage identified for renewal are 78% and 90% complete respectively.

We continue to be on course to complete the works by the end of May, subject to weather conditions.

We are due to switch the contraflow which will involve a full northbound overnight closure on 5 May and an overnight full closure on the southbound carriageway on 7 May. This will enable us to work on the southern section of the southbound carriageway while contraflow is on the northbound carriageway.

There will be a clearly signed diversion route in place. The diversion is from the A14 J56 onto the A137 then B1070 to J31 Four Sisters Interchange and vice versa. HGVs will go via A133, A137 and A14 and vice versa.

On all side roads Gatemen will be present to assist with members of the public who wish to access residences and business’ which may be affected by the road closures.

At Junctions 11 to 12 near Brentwood we have laid approximately 13,572 tonnes of surfacing material. The areas of safety barrier and drainage identified for renewal are 67% and 85% complete respectively.

For Junctions 11 to 12 we will be operating contraflow for approximately three weeks when it’ll be necessary to close the northbound carriageway for 14 overnights to enable the surfacing of the area of the northbound carriageway closest to the M25 which cannot be done under contraflow. I’ll provide an update closer to the time to confirm the start of this phase.

We are not working during the May bank Holidays, however, the speed limit and the cylindrical cones on the centre line of the carriageway will remain in place.

I thank you for your patience while this work is completed.

Yours Sincerely

Anna”

Anna Graham, Project Sponsor
Highways England | Woodlands | Manton Lane | Bedford | MK41 7LW

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

March report to Mid Samford parishes

Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors

In this report

  • Developing information from the 2014 Suffolk Housing Survey
  • A new Planning Enforcement Plan
  • Change to parking space guidance on new developments
  • Work inspiration for schools

Developing information from the 2014 Suffolk Housing Survey
Good quality housing has an important role in improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Housing is a big national agenda, and Suffolk shares in this. To understand current and future needs the Suffolk Housing Survey was carried out with other local authorities and Public Health. The responses from our residents have provided evidence about people’s expectations and aspirations. The data collected will now be used to develop Babergh’s priorities. These include:

  • The building of new council housing
  • A review of existing sheltered housing,
  • The delivery of strategic development sites in the district (Sudbury, Hadleigh and Ipswich fringe)
  • How we deal with empty homes,
  • The Health and Wellbeing Strategy, and
  • An overall strategy for investment and development.

The information gathered will help to identify the areas of highest need across the district, but this may also require additional Local Needs Surveys. This work is currently carried out by Community Action Suffolk (and usually commissioned by parish councils.) Some of our sheltered schemes are out of date and in low demand. Older people want a choice about the type of housing and where they want to live. Newly formed households – for example young couples and people who are divorced and separated – are increasing. Many are looking to the private rented sector to meet their needs.

A new Planning Enforcement Plan
A new planning enforcement plan is being developed which will cover both Babergh and Mid Suffolk. The aim of the planning enforcement function is to discourage unauthorised development, and where planning breaches occur, to take proportionate action to remedy any harm to amenity or to the built or natural environment. This plan sets out what people should expect from the council and how it will prioritise and undertake investigations. This can be a vexatious issue for people, frustrated on the one hand by what can seem like petty rules, but on the other by an apparent lack of urgency or clout in the face of evident breaches of permissions and conditions.

Compliance with planning law is regarded as a top priority. However – many breaches, though unlawful, do not constitute a criminal offence unless there is non-compliance with an enforcement notice. Officers must use their discretion about whether enforcement action is reasonable and expedient. The key issue is whether there is an adverse impact on public amenity, or on the existing use of land or buildings, or it is contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework or the Development Plan.

Some types of development are “permitted development” and don’t need planning permission. “Express permission” is granted following an application to the council. Planning legislation specifically allows for retrospective applications, which then get treated in the same manner as a prospective one; more often than not, unauthorised developments are regularised that way, especially where it is likely that permission would be granted. A breach of control becomes immune from enforcement if no action has been taken within certain time limits – four years or ten years, depending on the nature of the breach.

 

Change to parking space guidance on new developments
In the recent past planning policy has restricted the level of parking provision, particularly in new residential developments. The aim was to promote less reliance on cars and a move to more sustainable and healthy methods of travel, particularly for shorter journeys.

This approach has had some success in city centres across England where public transport provision is good, the distance to important community services is short and plenty of local shopping is available. However, in rural communities where mobility is more reliant on access to a car, many residential developments have suffered from limited parking space.

Since 2010 government has placed a new emphasis on local decisions and a move in policy attitude towards adequate parking provision – which means that local councils can now take decisions better suited to local circumstances.

Work inspiration for schools
Currently there is a focus in the media on young people’s skills, together with commentary about how our schools don’t always provide them with an awareness of work. Like everywhere in the public sector, schools are under pressure, tight on resource but driven to deliver their statutory programme. It is understandable then that when it comes to work related learning, with little support behind it, schools can’t always do as much of this as they may want to. In the same way that professionals and managers are not teachers, teachers are not trained accountants, chefs, planners, engineers, community officers, and the rest. So, it’s not always easy for them to talk about other roles and working environments. With that in mind, the Work Inspiration Brokerage has been set up as a great mechanism for linking with young people at school.

Several colleagues from Babergh and Mid Suffolk have joined this initiative, going into both high schools and primary schools to take part in a range of events. This has included CV workshops, Dragon’s Den style panels and project planning and maths in the work place. These are all designed to underpin the employability skills that are so essential to adult life but not necessarily highlighted by the school curriculum.

Babergh has also co-operated with other councils across Suffolk to set up the MyGo centre in Ipswich. The aim is to give advice and support to 16 to 24 year olds. It is the first of its kind in the UK and has been extremely successful so far, even though it has only been open a few months. The service is also available online: http://www.its-mygo.co.uk/

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

Update on A12 resurfacing J31-33

I have received this update today from Anna Graham of the Highways Agency about progress of the resurfacing works on the A12 and installation of permanent speed cameras between the Essex border and East Bergholt B1070 junction.

I am writing to provide an update on our progress and make you aware of what is happening in the near future.
As you may be aware, poor weather and low temperatures have slowed progress on both the A12 J11 to 12near Brentwood and J33 Copdock to 31 East Bergholt schemes. In addition to this, in spite of our survey work prior to commencing construction work, the milled surface layer was in a lesser state of repair than expected. This was particularly so on the section near Brentwood where we have now replaced this lower layer to ensure the new material is laid on a sound surface. At J33-31 we only needed to repair smaller sections of this lower layer as it was in a better condition than J11-12.
We are now progressing well at J33-31 we have been concentrating on the planned areas of deeper treatment which may currently look like short sections of resurfacing, however, these have been deep repairs, once these have been completed we will be continuing milling out this section and laying  long lengths of surfacing.
As well as the resurfacing work we have been renewing drainage channels, safety fence terminals and installing sign bases. You may also notice that the Permanent Average Speed Cameras are also beginning to be installed, this is a safety scheme which will share part of our traffic management to minimise disruption to road users. There will be separate overnight lane closures (traffic remaining on the A12) for those permanent average speed cameras located further south of the maintenance works. If you have any questions about the Permanent Average Speed Camera works, please contact Martin Oliver, Project Sponsor on Martin.Oliver@highways.gsi.gov.uk.
At J33-31 we are aiming to complete the current phase of work by Monday 9th March where we will switch the overnight contraflow onto the northbound carriageway near the Copdock roundabout and build the buffer zone (the cylindrical cones) on the southbound carriageway. In addition to the traffic management being moved, cabling for one set of cameras will be laid underneath the carriageway. It will be necessary to close the A12 overnight for four nights; two nights in each direction.
The overnight closures are expected to take place from 9th March. We would like to close the carriageway from 9pm until 5am. I appreciate that we proposed to close the carriageway between 10pm and 6am, however, traffic flows begin to increase and therefore, we would consider it better to remove the traffic management earlier. Traffic flows are quieter at 9pm and therefore, less likely to be disruptive for road users and residents.
There will be a clearly signed diversion route in place for the total Closure of A12 northbound carriageway from four Sisters interchange (J31) traffic will be diverted onto the B1070 to the A137 which brings traffic out onto J56 of the A14. HGVs will go via A133, A137 and A14. Vice versa for the southbound carriageway

“On all side roads Gatemen will be present to assist with members of the public who wish to access residences and business’ which may be affected by the road closures.
Following the four nights of closures overnight contraflow will be in operation to enable the resurfacing work of the northbound carriageway to begin. Overnight northbound traffic between J32b and J33 will be guided onto the southbound carriageway which will operate like a single carriageway road. Northbound traffic will be unable to exit local roads; they will be diverted to J33 to bring them southbound on the A12 where they can exit at the appropriate slip. The current speed restrictions will remain in place.
We are conscious that we need to make up time on the programme and therefore, we are looking to start the contraflow from 9pm to 6am Mondays to Thursdays, subject to traffic flows to provide a longer working window. Additionally, we will be working Fridays and Saturdays between 9pm and 8am, subject to traffic flows. I apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause, however, by increasing the working window we hope to reduce the overall time we are working on the road. We are currently programmed to finish all work between J33-31 in May.
At J11-12 near Brentwood, there will be a northbound carriageway closure starting Monday 2nd March for up to two weeks a clearly signed diversion route will be in place. The diversion route will be from J11, Brook St, via the A1023 and back on to the A12 at J12, Mountnessing.  This will enable core samples and central reserve barrier work to be undertaken while allowing for the resurfacing to continue on the northern section of the scheme.
We expect to finish the current phase of work by 14th March when the overnight contraflow will be switched to the northern section of the southbound carriageway. This will require 2 nights of carriageway closure on 14th and 15th March, one night in each direction and will utilise the same diversion route as described above. The closure will be from 9pm and 6am subject to traffic flows.
From the 16th March we will be working to resurface the northern section of the southbound carriageway with contraflow in operation Monday to Saturday between 9pm and 6am, subject to traffic flows.
We are currently programmed to finish all the works between J11-12 at the end of April.
I hope the above is helpful and if I can be of further assistance please contact me

Yours Sincerely

Anna

Anna Graham, Project Sponsor
Highways Agency | Woodlands | Manton Lane | Bedford | MK41 7LW”

A12 roadworks update

  • Works are due to start today (Feb 2nd) on the installation of speed cameras on the A12 between the Suffolk/Essex border and East Bergholt junctions. These are not to be confused with the TEMPORARY – although permanent looking – speed cameras already in place to enforce the 40mph limit during the resurfacing works between East Bergholt and Copdock Mill roundabout. There are no current plans to permanently reduce the speed limit between Stratford St. Mary and East Bergholt.
  • Work on building the crossovers between the carriageways continues on the A12 between East Bergholt and Copdock Mill roundabout. Nightime closures are in operation between 9.30pm and 5.30am on the A12 Southbound carriageway from the Copdock Mill roundabout entrance. The sign says this started on 26th Jan and is for 19 nights.
  • Any queries should be directed to 0300 123 5000 or email: ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk

 

A12 Roadworks update

Here is an update from Anna Graham of the Highways Agency (more details also in the December parish report:

A12 J31 – J33 improvement works

I am writing to inform you that we will be carrying out works to improve the road network on the A12 between junction 31 (Four Sisters Interchange) and junction 33 (Copdock Interchange). The works are part of essential maintenance to ensure that the A12 remains in a safe and serviceable condition.

There are a number of phases to the works:

•    Phase 1 – Work to build cross over locations to enable the use of contraflow is expected to begin, subject to weather conditions, overnight on 8 December for two weeks, finishing on 19 December. The work will be carried out by closing one lane in each direction with a reduced speed limit from 10pm to 6 am. The works may create delays in getting to and from your business for your staff and customers, for which we apologise.

•    Phase 2 – The main work to resurface the carriageway is anticipated to start in the New Year for approximately 8 weeks, subject to weather conditions. This work is to be carried out using overnight contraflow between the hours of 10pm and 6 am. A reduced speed limit will be in operation 24 hours a day for the safety of both road users and the workforce. During the day the A12 will operate at its current capacity.

•    Phase 3 – The installation of cross over gates and finishing works are due to take place following the completion of the contraflow phase. It may be necessary to close the carriageway overnight between 10pm and 6 am for up to two weeks in order to undertake the work. A clearly signed diversion route will be in place, including a dedicated HGV diversion route. More details will follow.

Drivers will be diverted to exit at junction 31 (Four Sisters Interchange) and then onto the B1070, A137 and A14 to re-join A12 at junction 33 (Copdock) and vice versa. Lorries will be advised to follow A133, A137 and A14.

I will write to you again in the New Year with a further update regarding the next stage of the works.

We will do our utmost to complete the works as quickly as possible, avoiding disturbance and keeping noise to a minimum. Once complete, the work will reduce the need for future maintenance at this location. If you have any enquiries please contact the Highways Agency Information Line (HAIL) on 0300 123 5000, or by email to: ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk.

Yours faithfully,

Anna Graham
Highways Agency

Capel Post Office move – consultation deadline 4th December

A quick reminder that the deadline is fast approaching for your comments on the transfer of Capel St. Mary Post Office to the Coop supermarket. All comments must be received by 4th December.

  • More details in the attached pdf document PO flyer
  • There is also a letter available at Capel Post Office with proposed opening times, etc.
  • You can comment online at postofficeviews.co.uk entering the code 06313099 for the Capel PO branch
  • email: comments@postoffice.co.uk
  • FREEPOST Your comments (yes that is the whole address!)

Report to Mid Samford parishes November 2014

From Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors

In this edition:

  • Relocation of post office services in Capel St Mary
  • New recycling service coming to Suffolk
  • Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
  • Renewable energy workshop
  • Changes to English Heritage
  • Community heroes
  • MyGo – youth employment centre

Relocation of post office services in Capel St Mary

We were recently alerted to a six-week consultation period on moving the Capel Post Office branch to the Co-operative Food Store in the shopping precinct. The consultation closes on 4th December, so we have made every effort to promote the news to residents. The move has the agreement of the Postmaster and is part of a programme to see 8000 branches modernised. Post Office services will be offered from two tills on the retail counter, with longer opening hours and most of the Post Office products will still be available. We are aware that business is increasingly challenging for sub-post offices, with many closures. This move should protect the service for local residents. You can pick up a leaflet at the Post Office with information, also, on how to comment.

There have been a number of concerns and useful points raised about the service being delivered in the new location and many points have already been submitted by us to the Post Office. Chief of these are issues of privacy, space, queues and security. We hope to be working through these once the consultation is concluded. Meetings have been arranged with the Senior Stakeholder manager for Post Office Ltd to clarify matters. The Co-op is a preferred supplier to the Post Office and has a lot of experience in running these services.

New recycling service coming to Suffolk

A new service, designed to make recycling even easier, went live from 3rd November with Suffolk residents being given the chance to recycle more items at home. We can now put food and drink cartons, aerosol cans, books and metal pots, pans and trays into the recycling bin. These new materials will be collected alongside the usual items; paper, card, cans, foil and plastic bottles, tubs and trays. We can also recycle textiles in the recycling bin as long as they are in the special bags provided by the council. People in Suffolk are amongst the top performers in the country with 53% of our waste already being recycled. The Suffolk Waste Partnership estimates that more than 18,000 tonnes of material that could be recycled from home gets thrown away costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds. When people put recyclable items in their black bin it costs approximately £80 more per tonne for the council to collect and dispose of it, totalling £1.4 million every year. Please make sure your recycle items are clean, dry and loose when placed in the recycling bins.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

Babergh has begun a second consultation stage for the charging schedule proposed for new build in the District. Comments from the first stage have been reviewed and noted. When finally agreed by Council, the schedule will still be subject to Examination. Our Strategic sites – large-scale developments in the Ipswich, Sudbury and Hadleigh areas – will still secure infrastructure through S106 agreements and therefore have a zero (£0) charge CIL rate, as will office and industrial development, but (with the exclusion of “assisted living” housing) new dwellings in this area will be charged £115 per square metre. Parishes without a Neighbourhood Plan will receive 15% of the CIL monies, capped at £100 per existing home; with a plan, they will receive 25% and no cap. Parishes have greater flexibility in how they can use this money as long as they can demonstrate that its use relieves the pressure of growth. Full details can be seen on Babergh’s website, Paper P67.

Recent workshop: “renewable energy” – defined as naturally replenished on a human time scale, is being promoted again by Government. This time the focus is on devices such as air source and ground source heat pumps. There are loans available which attach to the property rather than the individual, over a long time span, but their practicality and adoption is often a matter of circumstances, especially for existing properties. However, we were given some interesting figures, particularly about fuel poverty and rising energy costs. Over 19% of the population spend more than 10% of their income on heating – the UK tops the fuel poverty league. Approximately 80.6% of global energy consumption is still from fossil fuels, renewable 16.7% and nuclear 2.7%. According to Age UK, people in cold homes are three times more likely to die from heart attack or stroke than those in a warm home. As winter approaches we need to be alert to people who may be vulnerable as there is help and advice available. Suffolk Energy Action is a good source of information.

Changes to English Heritage

Government intends to form two separate organisations to manage the Nation’s heritage.  From April 2015 Historic England will be responsible for the provision of advice to local authorities while English Heritage, which is now a widely recognised name, will become a charitable body responsible for looking after historic properties. The English Heritage Charity will be responsible, under an operating licence from Historic England, for the care of the National Heritage Collection.  Whilst all of its properties will remain in public ownership, it will be able to make the most of commercial and philanthropic opportunities.

Community heroes – we are again invited to nominate for a Community Achievement Award, people who are active in Babergh, work in the local community on an unpaid or voluntary basis, and who the community feel should be recognised for their contribution.

MyGo – youth employment centre

This new centre opens in Princes Street, Ipswich in November, offering a complete jobs service to all-comers aged between 16 and 24 – whether employed or not, on benefits or not. It is part of the Greater Ipswich City Deal and the first of its type, being dedicated solely to young people. It’s modern, clean, light, comfortable, friendly and well equipped with IT and internet – you can even drop in for a chat and a coffee if you’re the right age! Every young person needs to know about this facility.

October 2014 Report to Mid Samford parishes

Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors
sue.carpendale@babergh.gov.uk kathy.pollard@babergh.gov.uk

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.

September report to Mid Samford parishes

Posting this rather late, due to holidays: this month’s post from Councillor Sue Carpendale and myself.

The “open” Electoral Register

We have previously mentioned the change to the way in which we all now register to vote: for many years the “head of the household” was responsible for listing everyone in the house over the age of 18. That has changed and now it is up to each of us as individuals to ensure that we are registered.

As part of this change a letter was sent out from Babergh to all registered voters which perhaps contained some rather confusing information. Many people had previously indicated that they did not wish their names to be visible on the public version of the electoral register – this is one that can be sold for commercial purposes. The letter sent by Babergh should have reassured people that their previous preference would be carried out under the new arrangements, but it didn’t. So if you have previously asked for your name to be removed, that request still stands and you need take no further action. If you do want to have your name removed from the “open” version, tell Babergh by phone – 01473-825713 or by email – electoral@babergh.gov.uk

Don’t forget that the General, District and Parish council elections will take place on Thursday May 7th 2015. If you are likely to be away on business, holiday or have difficulty getting to the polling station – or would simply prefer to vote by post, you can apply to Babergh for a permanent postal vote. You can apply online at: http://www.babergh.gov.uk/council-business/elections-and-voting/how-do-i-vote/ or contact Babergh by phone 01473 825713. If you are likely to be away on holiday when the postal votes are sent out you can alternatively apply for a proxy vote. This means that you nominate someone else to vote on your behalf – for example a friend or family member.

New planning applications

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is designed to make planning simpler and faster. It’s about sustainable development and positive growth – with economic, environmental and social roles. There are some key changes, including for example, that village “envelopes” or built-up area boundaries are no longer sacrosanct and there is a presumption in favour of development.

An outline application for up to 24 homes off London Road in Capel St Mary was before the Planning Committee on 3rd September, on land which is outside the boundary. We do need smaller homes in the village so that younger people can get onto the housing ladder and older people have options for downsizing. There could also be up to eight “affordable” homes (i.e. for social rent) in such a development. However, there are concerns about the location and access to this site, largely on account of the tricky junction with the A12 slip road. It is already difficult, as vehicles accessing the A12 expect to be able to accelerate to merge with fast moving traffic, but may find they are following someone slowing down to make a left turn – or indeed exiting London Road with limited visibility and limited time to manoeuvre. More homes would more than double the potential for accidents.

We therefore requested that safety measures and road improvements at this junction be in place before approval of the application. It will need to return to committee at a future date if the conditions cannot be met, and again at a later date if and when a full and detailed application is submitted.

Babergh’s Local Plan identifies Capel St Mary as a core village where there will be housing growth. There are no sites earmarked for this which means there could be any number of speculative applications. The community as a whole needs to be involved in influencing how this develops.

Greater Ipswich City Deal

Babergh is within the area covered by this major initiative. The project will drive forward economic growth in this region where we have major development potential in key industrial sectors including energy, ICT, financial services, advanced manufacturing, logistics, biotechnology and agri-tech. Other important sectors include tourism and agriculture. A key component of the Deal is the development of a local skills system that is responsive to the needs of employers and supports economic growth. To complement this, a business growth service will be established to provide enhanced support for innovation, improved access to finance and more targeted business support.

Over its lifetime, it is predicted the Deal will deliver: over 3,500 young people supported into work, including 2,200 into sustained work; £10 million new local investment in skills; 5,000 new Apprenticeships; 3,000 new high value jobs; 400 new businesses and £100m private sector investment. The EADT has recently featured the apprenticeship scheme. The key element of this Deal is the Youth Guarantee. The Ipswich area has had worse than national average youth unemployment for many years – it is a deep-rooted problem. Therefore there will be significant investment in helping all young people into work, training, further education or career-shift with more support for careers advice, information and guidance.

Open and transparent council meetings?

Babergh is about to adopt a new protocol, prompted by the Dept of Communities and Local Government, for members of the public who wish to record, film or take photographs at council meetings. You don’t have to tell the council in advance but it would be helpful, and any activity must not interfere with business or misrepresent proceedings.