Babergh hopes to increase local influence on new homes after showing housing land supply
Babergh hopes to increase community influence over housing developments, after it showed sufficient housing land supply for the first time in over a year.
The district council published its annual monitoring report yesterday, demonstrating a housing land supply of 6.7 years, which means there is enough deliverable land to meet housing need for that time period.
Under the National Planning Policy Framework, if the council cannot demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, local planning policy is not considered up to date and therefore carries less weight.
Since April 2017, Babergh had not been able to show the required land supply, but the council stated this figure has now been achieved through a proactive approach to housing delivery.
It says councillors will now be in a stronger position to reject inappropriate planning applications, and have greater control over implementing planning policies.
Nick Ridley, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for planning, said: "The scale of the housing challenge in the UK is clear - a great many local planning authorities do not have a five-year housing land supply as demand for housing rises.
"Thanks to the tough choices taken at Babergh, both by our planning committee and by the cabinet, Babergh is now one of the authorities who can demonstrate a supply.
"This will give us more room to shape housing delivery within the district and ensure we build the housing our communities need, with as much local influence over developments within the district."
James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk, hailed the announcement, having held a debate in Parliament on the matter last week.
"This is important because it means local communities will immediately be less vulnerable to speculative development," he said.
"It also means local policies once again become the priority in considering applications, including neighbourhood plans, ensuring the development is decided by elected representatives, instead of increasingly relying on the planning inspector, over whom we have little or no accountability."
Meanwhile, Long Melford councillors John Nunn and Richard Kemp said: "It means developments can be judged correctly on planning merits and the wishes of communities, instead of people having to accept totally unsuitable developments.
"Hopefully, this latest situation will reflect on some of the current unsuitable applications and refusals will follow as a natural result.
"This breathes back a little belief in the planning system for the population of Babergh."