Article published in The Elmswell Newsletter - March 2015
At last, the village has completed the last of the initial consultation processes and the printer has the draft of the questions which will form the questionnaire to be distributed to every household.
With the kind co-operation of many village groups, members of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group have visited their sessions, explained the Plan process and distributed draft sets of questions for discussion
and recommendations for improvement.
There were many useful comments, and changes have, accordingly been made. It was encouraging to hear so many positive comments about the work that the Group is trying to do. People seem, on the whole, to grasp that this is a real chance to put our local stamp on the way our village grows over the next 25 years. Equally encouraging was the general approval of the way the Group has structured the questionnaire and of the contents. It is sometimes hard to remember that we are writing something which will be a legal Planning document…guidelines and limits and rules that will have to be followed by developers who wish
to be part of building Elmswell’s future.
As the demolition of the Bacon Factory site moves rapidly forward, we are reminded of the pressures to come. Landowners have been asked by Mid Suffolk to submit their suggestions as to parcels of land around the edge of the village which they think might be suitable for development. We are not privy to this process, but various hints have come from landowners, from developers and from their land agents and it is obvious that there are many potentially large bids in the pipeline.
The mood in Government is robustly in favour of more houses. The pressures in the housing market are clearly directing these new houses towards the south east and to eastern England. Two magnets for the ensuing development are Felixstowe and Cambridge – the largest container port in the country and our very own 'silicone valley'. Half way between these exploding centres of population, sitting slap bang on the A14, served by a railway station and with a school, shops, pubs, and excellent community facilities – 'infrastructure' – is us. It stands to reason that, if you are in the business of building and selling houses, Elmswell is very near the top of your site wish list.
The community must be ready for development on terms which it has agreed, in advance, offer the best chance for us to retain the balance which currently makes us a thriving, happy and attractive place to live.
The Neighbourhood Plan gives us a chance to have a real say and some real control. The group is aiming to have the questionnaires out with the April Newsletter. Your response is essential and can help make a difference.
Wed 18 Mar 2015