BMSDC Joint Local Plan Preferred Options (interactive)
01 - Introduction
01.01 The Babergh and Mid Suffolk Draft Joint Local Plan (hereafter referred to as 'the Draft JLP') is an important document which will provide the strategy for the growth of Babergh and Mid Suffolk. It will set out the strategy for development up to 2036, including land allocations. Once adopted, the Draft JLP will replace the existing local planning policies for both Babergh and Mid Suffolk.
What is the purpose of this consultation?
01.02 The purpose of this consultation is to seek your views on the identified planning issues, options and policy preference for Babergh and Mid Suffolk.
01.03 This consultation is your opportunity to identify the planning issues that you think the Plan should address in your communities and comment on possible ways that the plan might address these important issues in your communities. The more information you can respond to, the greater your opportunity to shape the future of the area.
01.04 Please submit your comments via the online consultation system, email firstname.lastname@example.org or post responses to Joint Local Plan consultation, B&MSDC, Endeavour House, 8 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2BX.
Why do we need a Plan for Babergh and Mid Suffolk?
01.05 Planning involves weighing up economic, social and environmental factors to achieve the most balanced and sustainable way forward.
01.06 The current development planning system was established through the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and subsequent amendments, such as the Localism Act 2011 which introduced neighbourhood plans. The national approach to planning policy matters is set out principally in the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF 2019), Planning Practice Guidance and other but also within documents covering specific topics such as the Marine Policy Statement and Planning Policy for Travellers Sites.
01.07 The NPPF 2019 sets a presumption in favour of sustainable development, requiring that local planning authorities plan positively to meet the development needs of their area. The Draft JLP policies for Babergh and Mid Suffolk will sit alongside the NPPF, 2019, and where appropriate supplement policies based upon local circumstances.
01.08 In accordance with Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004) once adopted, the policies and allocations set out in the Development Plan will provide the primary consideration in determining applications, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk's Current Development Plan
01.09 The current Development Plan for Babergh consists of the saved policies of the Babergh Local Plan, Alteration No. 2 (2006), the Babergh Local Plan (2011 – 2031) Core Strategy and Policies (2014) and the 'made' (adopted) neighbourhood plans. For Mid Suffolk, the Development Plan comprises the saved policies of the Mid Suffolk District Local Plan (1998), the First Alteration to the Mid Suffolk Local Plan (2006), the Mid Suffolk District Core Strategy Development plan Document (2008), and the Mid Suffolk District Core Strategy Focused Review (2012), the Stowmarket Area Action Plan Local Plan (2013) and the 'made' (adopted) Neighbourhood Plans. The Minerals Core Strategy (incorporating Development Control Policies) (2008), the Minerals Specific Site Allocation Plan (2009), and the Waste Core Strategy Development Plan Document (2011) produced by Suffolk County Council also form part of the Development Plan. The new Joint Local Plan will replace the Local Plans and alterations (saved policies), the Core Strategies, and the Stowmarket Area Action Plan.
01.10 When made (adopted), any new Neighbourhood Plans shall also become part of the development plan and shall be considered alongside the Joint Local Plan when determining planning applications. In 2019, a number of Neighbourhood Plans have already been adopted across the Babergh and Mid Suffolk areas. A further 40+ parishes have been subject of area designation and plans for these areas are at various stages of preparation. Neighbourhood Plan groups have an opportunity to work with the relevant District Council in order to share information and bring sites forward for allocation where they would assist to meet the levels of growth in the Joint Local Plan.
The new Joint Local Plan
01.11 The Draft JLP will set out planning policies to set the context for protecting the Districts' valuable natural and built environment and ensure that new development is delivered in a sustainable way.
01.12 The Draft JLP is primarily based upon and in conformity with national planning policy and legislation, whilst having full regard to relevant strategic and locally significant matters.
Why do we need a Plan to deliver growth?
01.13 In accordance with the NPPF standard methodology the Draft JLP has to accommodate identified housing needs along with employment and community facilities and services in Babergh and Mid Suffolk respectively. The new Joint Local Plan will set out a strategy to accommodate this in full in accordance with national policy requirements. Preventing growth across the two Districts is not an option. Levels of housing need in the area are high and new homes will have to be provided to meet this need.
01.14 Rates of annual housing delivery in Babergh and Mid Suffolk have been approximately 20% below the levels of current delivery since 2014/15. From 2018 onwards the annual rate of housing to be delivered has also increased by around 30%-40% in each council area, compounding delivery issues. A 'plan led' approach is fundamental to shaping future delivery and provides a mechanism to coordinate the delivery of infrastructure necessary to support growth. Development should be planned to secure the delivery of key infrastructure projects across the County, such as the improvements to the A14 network as well as localised infrastructure schemes within communities.
01.15 The Plan will be set out in 3 parts:
- Part 1 – Objectives and Strategic Policies
- Part 2 – (a) Non Strategic Delivery Policies
- Part 2 – (b) Non Strategic Place and Allocation Policies.
01.16 Part 1 sets out the strategic policies to address Babergh and Mid Suffolk's priorities for the development and use of land by establishing the overall strategy for the pattern, scale and quality of development (and any relevant cross boundary issues). The policies will make sufficient provision for:
- Housing (including affordable) employment, retail, leisure and other commercial development;
- Infrastructure; and
- Conservation and enhancement of the natural, built and historic environment, including landscapes and green infrastructure, and planning measures to address climate change mitigation and adaption.
01.17 Part 2 (a) will include more detailed policies for management and delivery of types of development and (b) detailed policies for specific places and neighbourhoods. This includes new housing and land allocations, provision of infrastructure and community facilities (such as schools, healthcare and cultural facilities) at a local level, establishing design and construction principles, conserving and enhancing the natural and historic environment and setting out development management policies.
01.18 The Draft JLP will articulate policies to influence delivery across four priority areas that your district councillors have identified will have the most positive impact on that future:
- Healthy Communities & Infrastructure.
01.19 The Councils of Babergh and Mid Suffolk, as the Local Planning Authorities, need to work with a large number of organisations and individuals to produce a local plan and determine planning applications. Alongside working with infrastructure providers and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils work closely with the other local authorities across Suffolk, including with the County Council.
01.20 Viability is a factor which has a significant role and influence over planning policies and development proposals. The Draft JLP has to be deliverable. This means that the cost of meeting the requirements of policies combined with the costs of meeting national requirements, such as building regulations, and local infrastructure need to be assessed and factored into the emergence of all policy proposals and allocations.
Delivery & Places
01.21 The Draft JLP will have a focus upon managing the delivery of sustainable development which supports the areas' economic growth ambitions; the important rich historical and natural environment; the extensive network of existing communities; and enables development through facilitating the delivery of infrastructure.
01.22 The Draft JLP will have regard to emerging neighbourhood plans being prepared in the District and will provide a context for new neighbourhood plans to be prepared against.
Local Plan Timetable
01.23 The Draft JLP is reaching an advanced stage where the Councils' proposed policy approach has been set out for public consultation in this document. The next stage of the Plan (Regulation 19) will involve a final consultation where upon comments can only be formally accepted where they relate to matters of soundness or legal compliance. Comments at the final stage of the JLP will be sent for consideration by an independent Planning Inspector who will conduct an Examination of the Plan. The Joint Local Plan shall be supported with a sustainability appraisal and appropriate assessment at all the relevant stages of consultation.
02 - Babergh & Mid Suffolk Profile & Context
02.01 Babergh and Mid Suffolk are predominantly rural districts covering the geographical centre of Suffolk, running from the boundary with Essex in the south to the boundary with Norfolk in the north. This covers a total area of approximately 565 square miles.
02.02 Babergh and Mid Suffolk Councils work collectively to deliver a shared priorities as set out in the Joint Strategic Plan (2016 – 2020). The main priority areas are the economy, environment, housing and communities. The Draft JLP provides the mechanism to enable the delivery of the spatial elements of vision and priorities.
02.03 The population of Babergh District is 87,740; Mid Suffolk population is 96,731 (Census, 2011). Across Babergh and Mid Suffolk more than half the population live in villages and rural areas. In combination both districts have six main centres; which include Eye, Needham Market and Stowmarket in Mid Suffolk; Pinewood, Hadleigh and Sudbury in Babergh. The historic market towns are surrounded by a rural hinterland comprising 198 rural parishes.
02.04 Babergh and Mid Suffolk are heavily influenced by large centres of population with Ipswich in the east, Bury St Edmunds in the west, Diss and Harleston in the north. This is reinforced by the area's strategic transport connectivity with main road and rail links including the A12/A14/A140 main roads from London to Felixstowe and Cambridge, together with main line rail links from London, to Cambridge and Norwich and a strategic link for freight traffic from Felixstowe to Nuneaton in the Midlands. A large portion of Mid Suffolk has direct access to the A14 and the main line railway between London/Ipswich/Norwich and Cambridge. Babergh has less accessibility with a smaller proportion of its area served directly by the east A12 and north by the A14 and no main line railway stations.