Lavenham’s local plan up for consultation

Roy Whitworth, vice-chairman of Lavenham Parish Council. ENGANL00120121017115202
Roy Whitworth, vice-chairman of Lavenham Parish Council. ENGANL00120121017115202

It is hoped a neighbourhood plan for Lavenham will ensure homes for future generations of villagers as house prices rise and the average age increases.

A popular tourism destination with a high level of employment, Lavenham parish council hopes to ensure that young workers can afford to both work and live in the village, with many forced out by high house and rent prices.

The parish council began work on its neighbourhood plan in 2012, recently formally submitting the plan to Babergh District Council.

Following this, Babergh has commenced a six week consultation.

This is the first such plan in the Babergh area which, if eventually adopted by the district council, would be used to determine planning applications in the village.

Roy Whitworth, vice-chairman of the parish council, said: “The main thrust of the plan is to limit any future development to quite small developments rather than large estates.

“To be sympathetic of the sensitive landscape and in respect of its historic centre.

“The emphasis is on small houses to try to help young families with affordable houses to help more people live and work in the village.

“Quite a lot of people drive and park here. If they could live here it would be better.

“We don’t really want any more estates of executive homes.”

As well as land use residents have been asked about future projects, including parking in the town, traffic, and importantly increasing the capacity of the already-full primary school.

“It’s parts the parish council feel are pretty important to tackle,” said Mr Whitworth. “If residents are backing these as well then we will have a bit more authority on these things.

“If we are trying to attract young people with families it is not sensible if they can’t go the school in the village.”

After mixed reactions to previous larger developments in the village, it was decided by the parish council at a well attended meeting in 2012 that a local plan would be one of the best ways to ensure Lavenham developed in a more sympathetic fashion.

A questionnaire was sent out to every household, with a 70 per cent response rate, asking questions on the need for new housing, and the location, type and size of any developments.

From this the plan has been created, with regular consultation with residents, local authorities and bodies including Historic England.

Babergh is now asking whether the policies contained within the plan are appropriate and is seeking views from people who live, work and carry out business in the area. The deadline for the submission of comments is Tuesday, February 16.

With most of the work done Mr Whitworth said he did not foresee any major changes coming from the latest consultation.

Following the consultation, the plan - including comments from respondents - will be passed for statutory examination by an independent inspector appointed by Babergh.

It is hoped, if passed, the plan will be ready to be decided on by Lavenham residents in a referendum in a couple of months.

Neighbourhood planning allows communities to develop their own planning policies which will guide new development.

The plan and supporting documents can be found at www.babergh.gov.uk/LavenhamNDP.