Elmswell Neighbourhood Plan Is Making Headway
Extract from "News from your councillor, Sarah Mansel - Spring 2014"
Elmswell is now making progress with its Neighbourhood Plan. The area for the Plan has now been agreed by MSDC (following a consultation period) as the whole parish. A public meeting was held last month, and a steering group has now been formed.
The steering group will now gather information and evidence about engaging with the whole community to decide on issues which need to be covered. A questionnaire will be designed to address these issues and all residents will be urged to complete the questionnaire. The results will be analysed before the actual Neighbourhood Plan can be published. The final stage of the process will be a referendum on the Neighbourhood Plan, and if there is a majority in favour of the plan, it will then become a statutory planning policy.
I have always been fully in favour of Elmswell taking on the idea of a Neighbourhood Plan. it will not stop development within the village, but will enable the community to have a say on what type and location of development can progress. In the current Mid Suffolk Local Plan, Elmswell is designated a 'key service centre', and in light of the National Planning Policy Framework will attract developers to put forward proposals for development in the village.
Most of you will already be aware of the current planning application for 190 homes on the old bacon factory site north of the railway line. Admittedly the Neighbourhood Plan will not be able to influence this particular planning application, but we do need to look to the future. Elmswell will be developed; it will grow and it will change, and I believe that a Neighbourhood Plan is the only way we even have a chance to influence any future development.
Elmswell is a great place to live — it has good facilities and is close to transport links but I think we have to accept that Elmswell will change during the 21 Century; regardless of whether we have a Neighbourhood Plan or not.
There has been much talk about the possibility of a bridge over the railway to alleviate the problems of the level crossing. These problems will only get worse as more rail freight is transported in the future together with more development north of the railway line. There is no
guarantee that more development will result in a relief road over the railway, but having a Neighbourhood Plan is the only way it can even be a remote long term possibility.
Currently there is no mention of such a bridge in the Mid Suffolk Local Plan, so any financial contributions from developers cannot easily be earmarked for a bridge. There are a multitude of other community benefits to which any developer must contribute; so until we put it on our wish list, it just won’t happen. However if such a scheme was part of our Neighbourhood Plan, then it will become more feasible.
However the Neighbourhood Plan is not just about a railway crossing — it should enable the whole community to determine what it wants for the future: but whatever that is going to be, it cannot stifle development. We have all got to accept that this village will grow and change, but let's hope we can engineer change for the better not the worse! I can see no disadvantages of going through the Neighbourhood Plan process, so I hope that the whole community will support the steering group.
Fri 13 Jun 2014