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Five-year land supply for housing in Babergh and Mid Suffolk is 'too little, too late', claims opposition

Claims by two Suffolk councils that they now have a five-year housing land supply have been described as “too little, too late”.

Councils are required to demonstrate they have a five-year supply of housing land, or risk being open to threats from speculative developers.

Authorities without a five-year land supply must look more in favour of approving applications of any kind, meaning the risks of speculative developers trying their hand on developing a site increases.

House building. Stock image (15960303)
House building. Stock image (15960303)

It also creates further risks if a developer appeals a decision with the Planning Inspector.

At a recent joint Babergh and Mid Suffolk scrutiny meeting, the latest figures were 5.78 years for Babergh and 5.61 for Mid Suffolk, meaning the authorities both believe they now have an adequate supply.

Independent councillor Clive Arthey, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “In the period we are in, this is the best we can do.

“Yes we may be in the position of challenge, but I think the simple thing to say is that at this moment in time we have done the very best we can do.

“This is not an ideal situation for us to be in, and one of the main reasons for the difficult situation that we’re in is because neither council has an up to date local plan.

“I would just stress the importance of getting through that process as quickly as we can because we do need an adopted, up to date local plan as soon as possible.”

A joint local plan identifies areas suitable for development in the district, and once adopted can be used to determine whether planning applications which come forward are suitable.

But critics have said it was “too little, too late”.

Mid Suffolk councillor Andrew Stringer, from the Green Party group, said: “Instead of focusing precious resources on out of county speculative investments, we should have been working with communities to avoid this situation.”

The consultation on the five-year land supply figure ended last week, with responses now being reviewed and any changes needed up for consideration.

Cllr Arthey added that he hoped the position would be confirmed “within a matter of weeks”.

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