The coalition government has launched a localism agenda, a key element of which is the ability for local community groups to have much more say about what happens in their area by producing a Neighbourhood Plan (NP). It is not compulsory to produce an NP. If no NP exists for an area, then all the planning for that area will be carried out by the local planning authority (in our case Suffolk Coastal District Council). If an NP is produced then planning decisions will need to take into account what is contained in the NP. An NP has legal weight, and for this reason the process for producing one has to go through a number of specific stages, including a review by an independent Planning Inspector and then a referendum.
WHAT CAN A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN DO FOR MARTLESHAM ?
The one thing it cannot do is stop the allocation of the BT site for building up to 2000 homes of the next 15 -17 years. That is a strategic site defined in the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan.
However the sort of things we believe we can do with a Neighbourhood Plan are -
- Influence the style and layout of what is built on the BT site and elsewhere
- Determine where building will be allowed elsewhere in the parish
- Identify and protect open spaces and woodland against development
- Protect the viability of the parish's local shops and facilities (eg in the Square at Martlesham Heath and at Black Tiles) by restricting the growth of competing businesses in the retail park area.
- Improving the cycle and foot access around the village as a whole especially on the retail and industrial park, and access into Woodbridge.
- Plan how the new community will integrate with the existing communities
- Identify and encourage the provision of new sport and leisure facilities - eg tennis courts, badminton, allotments etc.
- Make housing provision not only for our young people, but also for local older people who want to downsize to a more accessible home.
- Encourage the provision of low rent start up businesses premises specifically to encourage our local young entrepreneurs.
- Reduce the environmental impact of the A12