Neighbourhood Watch: 210-home approval 'destroys confidence' in neighbourhood planning, parish warns

A parish council in Suffolk has condemned a district's decision to approve plans for 210 homes on a site that is not allocated for development in its recently-made neighbourhood plan.

A visualisation of the finished Bloor Homes scheme (pic: Bloor Homes)
A visualisation of the finished Bloor Homes scheme (pic: Bloor Homes)

Thurston Parish Council warned that the decision taken by Mid Suffolk District Council would "destroy confidence" in the neighbourhood plan process.

Mid Suffolk councillors followed an officer recommendation to approve Bloor Homes’ outline plans for 210 homes on a nine hectare site.

Making their recommendation, officers noted that the site is located within an area covered by the Thurston Neighbourhood Development Plan, which was adopted, or made, in October last year after winning the backing of 95 per cent of residents at a referendum.

"Accordingly, the neighbourhood plan has statutory weight and alongside the rest of the development plan it is the starting point for decision-taking purposes," officers said.

While the site is not allocated in the neighbourhood plan, it has been earmarked for the development of around 200 homes in the emerging Babergh and Mid Suffolk Joint Local Plan, which is currently the subject of local consultation.

Officers said the local plan could only be afforded "limited weight" but added that it "provides an indication of the intended ‘direction of travel’".

Responding to the planning application, Thurston Parish Council raised a series of concerns about the proposed scheme including the impact on local schools and the transport network.

Pointing to the proposed approach to growth set out in its neighbourhood plan, the parish council advised that development should be focused on five sites already granted planning permission and on small infill sites within the village’s settlement boundary.

However, Mid Suffolk councillors agreed with the local authority’s planning officers who advised that the neighbourhood plan "fails to address the housing requirement for Thurston".

Officers said that the application site had been identified as being "appropriate for residential development" and was judged to be a "highly sustainable location". They added: "This fact cannot be ignored."

A spokesman for Thurston Parish Council said: "Villages throughout Mid Suffolk must now be asking what is the point of years of work when in one afternoon councillors destroy confidence in both them and the neighbourhood plan process."

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk District Council said: "The neighbourhood plan for Thurston recognises that the district through its emerging plan will provide the strategy to deliver new homes. It also acknowledges that Thurston will need to play its part in delivering that strategy.

"Whilst the site granted planning permission was not allocated in the neighbourhood plan, we do not consider that there is a conflict with the policies of the neighbourhood plan nor does that plan preclude this development.

"We recognise that this may not be an interpretation of the neighbourhood plan which the parish council anticipated. We are content that our approach is sound and that the council has pursued its considerations with the need to significantly boost the supply of homes firmly in mind."

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN UPDATES

ADOPTION NEWS

Suffolk: The Botesdale and Rickinghall neighbourhood plan was adopted by Mid Suffolk District Council on 23 January.

Suffolk: The Aldham neighbourhood development plan was adopted by Babergh District Council on 21 January.

CONSULTATION NEWS

Buckinghamshire: Ickford Parish Council has submitted a draft neighbourhood plan to Aylesbury Vale District Council. Consultation will take place between 22 January and 4 March.

Cornwall: Penryn Town Council has published a pre-submission draft neighbourhood plan for a consultation that takes place between 18 January and 2 March.

Dorset: Milton Abbas Parish Council has submitted a draft neighbourhood plan to Dorset Council. Consultation will take place between 31 January and 13 March.

Surrey: Send Parish Council has submitted a draft neighbourhood plan to Guildford Borough Council. Consultation will take place between 17 January and 27 March.


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