BMSDC Joint Local Plan - Pre-Submission Reg19 (interactive) 2020

Ended on the 24 December 2020
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Policy background and explanation

10.01 NPPF paragraph 83 – To support sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments which respect the character of the countryside.

(1) 10.02 The Tourism Sector is an important part of the Suffolk economy. Babergh and Mid Suffolk Districts are located strategically across southern and central Suffolk. They include Constable Country bordering into Essex, the Shotley Peninsula, the wool towns (including Lavenham, Kersey, Polstead and Hadleigh), as well as the Heart of Suffolk which contains Hadleigh, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Debenham and Sudbury.

10.03 Sustaining the tourism sector is essential for the Suffolk economy. Tourism in Babergh has an estimated worth of £188 million and provides 3,067 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs (11% of all employment in the district). In Mid Suffolk, it is worth around £167million and provides 2,767 FTE jobs (9% of employment in the district) [Destination Research, the Economic Impact of Tourism, 2016].

10.04 Individual tourism and leisure facilities of strategic significance include:

  • Needham Lake;
  • Gainsborough's House; and,
  • The Museum of East Anglian Life.

10.05 Based on the heritage and agricultural origins of the area there are specialist clusters based on heritage, food and drinks with clusters of businesses located such as Muntons, Aspall, Copella and Jimmy's Farm. Specialist related events are also held around the stately halls of Helmingham, Melford and Kentwell Halls. Both Districts are rich with heritage assets and rural landscapes. Heritage/landscape-led tourism which seeks to bring back disused or under–used heritage assets into appropriate productive use or that enables the enhancement and protection of the landscape character is encouraged.

10.06 In order to support the unique tourism offerings of the facilities, each are designated for tourism related purposes where the development and expansion of uses which enhance their tourism and leisure offer is supported in principle, where appropriate in the scale, character and nature of their locality.

10.07 Babergh District recognises the Dedham Vale AONB and Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB as important to the tourism sector. The Dedham Vale AONB Management Plan 2016 and The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Management Plan 2018 both acknowledge a key quality of the AONB is its ability to link economic well-being and the landscape, with a flourishing tourism industry, which draws on the natural beauty, tranquillity and historic assets within the AONB.

10.08 The National Planning Policy Framework encourages development of tourism initiatives in rural locations, provided the character of the countryside is respected, and pollution and other adverse effects on the local and natural environments are minimised. Sustainable tourism, as advocated in the adopted AONB Management Plans, is strongly supported in the implementation of tourism development throughout Babergh, but with particular regard to the AONBs.

10.09 In order to ensure tourism can be sustainable, facility proposals that are adapted to meet existing and potential climate change issues and can demonstrate a contribution to climate change mitigation (such as access by other modes of transport other than the car) will be supported.

10.10 In terms of commercial leisure capacity, the 2015 study identifies capacity for 4 new cinema screens in both districts. In 2018, The Regal Theatre in Stowmarket received a grant form Mid Suffolk District Council to fund two additional cinema screens. There is also an increasing demand for gyms, and it is recommended that additional capacity could be supported in town centres, along with small scale ten pin bowling provision in the longer term.

10.11 To encourage visitors to support the economy of the Districts, the 2015 study identified the need to explore potential family attractions and provide greater sustainable connectivity from the train stations to desirable destinations and attractions, through bespoke walking and cycle ways.

(3) Policy SP07 – Tourism

  1. Settlements across Babergh and Mid Suffolk, many of which contain historic assets, tourism and leisure facilities, play an important role within the Districts. New development that supports this role will be encouraged, where appropriate in the scale, character and nature of their locality.
  2. Historic, recreational and landscape-based tourism proposals that demonstrate protection and enhancement of heritage, the environment and landscape assets will be actively encouraged.
  3. All tourism and leisure proposals will be required to demonstrate how they contribute to climate change adaption and mitigation.
  4. All proposals for development should comply with other policies in the Plan.

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