Council opens virtual exhibition to help form local plan

A virtual village hall has been opened as part of a new initiative to put residents at the heart of forming a new Local Plan for West Suffolk.

A ten week consultation has been launched on the Local Plan which will help shape the future of communities and supporting development up to 2040.

West Suffolk Council are now asking people to have their say on the initial ‘issues and options’ phase which sets the foundations of the formation of the final plan.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, a virtual exhibition in an online village hall has been set up and this includes a film as well as information boards and documents.

The exhibition can be found at westsuffolk.exhibition.app

There are a range of methods being used to help people learn more and have their say including planning officers being available to talk online via livechat in the virtual exhibition space, or over the phone on 01284 757368.

The Local Plan sets out where homes will be built and supports, with other council policies, where new jobs and other vital facilities are located. All of West Suffolk Council’s planning decisions are judged against Local Plan policies.

It also ensures the right number and types of homes are built in the right places and supports the provision of space for employment, green spaces, education, culture, health and sports facilities.

The process involves three consultation stages with the first being the ‘issues and options’ which started on 13th October and will last for 10 weeks.

This initial stage which will help shape the plan and the future of West Suffolk as it develops. The ‘issues and options’ consultation also has three parts:

  • Part One includes a spatial vision, a new draft settlement hierarchy and options for the distribution growth.
  • Part Two sets out issues in West Suffolk that are particularly relevant to our area.
  • Part Three contains sections for the towns, key service centres, local service centres and villages identified in the new draft settlement hierarchy in part one of the plan. It also includes a new call for sites.

At this first information gathering stage, the council will be consulting and seeking comments on a variety of issues and options.

Cllr John Griffiths, Leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “A good Local Plan is central to the best possible future development of West Suffolk and our communities. It is much more than just about where housing and associated facilities may go but will set out how best to support the future prosperity of our area and future generations as well as tackling issues such as climate change, and making sure we get the right kind of development in the right place while protecting our environment.

“The Local Plan shapes planning and development here up to 2040 which is why it is vital that, and I would encourage, people to have their say. We are using a range of methods from online exhibitions to webinars and posters, as well as our team being able to chat online with people.”

Cllr David Roach, Cabinet Member for Local Plan for West Suffolk Council, said: “We want everyone to have their say on the Issues and Options phase which will form the foundation of the Local Plan and ultimately guide future development in West Suffolk.

“During this time of COVID-19 with guidance restricting face-to-face meetings, we are having to engage in different ways including a virtual village hall exhibition that never shuts. Help us shape the future of West Suffolk and have your say before 22 December 2020.”

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