Babergh: District council backs 20-year plan for economic growth with 10,000 new jobs and 6,000 new homes
21:03 25 February 2014
The creation of around 10,000 new jobs is at the heart of a blueprint that will shape the face of a Suffolk authority area over the next two decades.
Bold plans for economic growth are central to Babergh’s new core strategy, which officers describe as a “jobs-led plan” aimed at creating 9,700 in the district by 2031.
The new local planning document, backed unanimously by councillors at a meeting last night, also seeks to deliver 6,000 new homes during that period, with a third of those being affordable.
Although Babergh’s two market towns - Sudbury and Hadleigh - are the focus for growth, with 1,050 of the homes earmarked for the Chilton Woods development north of Sudbury, the core strategy also promotes a positive approach to rural development, with 40% of new homes planned for rural sites.
The council aims to plan for rural locations in a new way using a “village clusters” approach to reflect how rural communities work and connect with each other.
According to Rich Cooke, Babergh’s corporate manager for spatial planning policy, all new developments will have to be “realistic, practical and achievable rather than just pipe dreams expressed on maps”.
He said the strategy reflected the Government’s new approach to planning and sustainable growth, which places an onus on councils to approve “the right kind of new development”.
Mr Cooke told this newspaper: “The new plan is jobs-led, rather than homes led, with the starting point being identified with aims for the level of new jobs and prosperity. The need for new homes flows on from this aspiration.
“The emphasis in planning for new homes will be much more about ensuring the right kind of homes of high quality design, sustainability and affordability are provided in the right locations where most needed.”
Babergh is one of Suffolk’s most sparsely populated authorities with much of the district made up of small rural villages. Council members welcomed the strategy’s new approach to planning for rural areas.
At the meeting last night, Clive Arthey, councillor for North Cosford ward, which includes the villages of Brent Eleigh, Chelsworth, Cockfield and Thorpe Morieux, described the strategy as a “fantastic document” that rural members should be proud of.
He added: “Prior to the First World War, village populations in Suffolk were twice what they are today so it’s no surprise that many facilities in rural communities are suffering. Having 40% of growth designated to villages will help enormously to preserve the facilities that they have. This will help them to survive with balanced communities into the future.”
Council chairman Nick Ridley added: “The core strategy is something for us to really build on in the future.”
Changes made to the document have just been approved by a Government planning inspector, who confirmed in his report that the core strategy now provides an “appropriate basis for the planning of the district over the next 20 years”.
The core strategy replaces 33 policies from the previous 2006 local plan. It contains policies relating specifically to the Chilton Woods strategic land allocation, land east of Sudbury at Great Cornard earmarked for up to 400 homes, a strategic site to the east of Hadleigh which will include 250 extra homes and employment land, a mixed use site on the Babergh Ipswich fringe and brownfield employment sites at Sproughton and Wherstead.