Our thanks to the Newsletter distribution team for the considerable extra load which they have carted round the village and distributed... 1775 sets of questions designed to help determine the factors that you feel are important in guiding the development of the village over the next 25 years.

A different questionnaire has been filled in by years 5 & 6 at Elmswell School. Another is to go to all Elmswell pupils at Thurston Upper School, and the businesses in the village will have their own version.

The questionnaires have been put together using computer software devised and managed by Community Action Suffolk (CAS) which used to be Suffolk ACRE. The responses will all go back, anonymously, on line directly to CAS who can then produce analysis of the answers in various forms. The unique code which is given to each responder cannot be traced back to them individually — it simply serves to prevent multiple submissions. This information guides the Steering Group towards putting together a Neighbourhood Plan — effectively a set of rules and guidelines which all developers must follow when considering
building in our village.

The other half of the essential background information required for an effective plan is statistics on a wide range of issues which concern the planning process. Biodiversity, population, house types, traffic flows, projected school admissions, social facilities that exist and the use of them, business and retail infrastructure, provision of medical services...all this and more will be measured and assessed by professionals with planning experience and with a track record in helping to build Neighbourhood Development Plans. Grant aid has been accessed for the work so far, and more will be available to ensure that we can afford top quality professional input and guidance.

The Steering Group has consulted widely on the process to date, and will do so again with individuals and groups on specific topics and in public meetings as and when the first draft of a Plan is available — probably 6 months away! A final draft then goes to Mid Suffolk District Council who check that proper procedures have been followed and that the evidence provided is suitable and adequate. The plan then goes to an independent inspector who must agree that it is a properly researched and appropriate. If the document satisfies all these requirements it is the subject of a referendum — everyone has a vote, as in an election, as to whether or not the plan is adopted. If 50% or more of those voting say ‘yes’, the plan becomes part of the District Local Plan — it has the strength of the law
behind it.

That is why this stage is so important. The group must be able to prove that it has consulted with and involved the community as widely as possible.

Please take the time to answer the questions, and please do it on line if at all possible. Group members — their names are in the questionnaire — will be only too pleased to help with any aspect of this or answer
any queries.

To be in touch or to find out more visit or email

Fri 03 Apr 2015

Images courtesy of Vince Woodward Email: