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Village votes to shape future development

Lavenham Village sign''Picture Mark Westley ANL-160913-205435009
Lavenham Village sign''Picture Mark Westley ANL-160913-205435009

Residents have voted overwhelmingly for their neighbourhood plan to be used by the district council to shape future development in Lavenham.

Villagers cast their votes in a Brexit-style referendum last week.

Ninety-one per cent of voters said they were in favour of Babergh District Council using the Lavenham neighbourhood plan in its decision-making process for planning applications in the area.

The referendum came after almost four years of consultation and research to produce a local plan, starting with a scoping project involving more than 40 people.

Lavenham Parish Council chairman Carroll Reeve said: “It’s taken a long time to get to this point but we are glad to have done it. It’s going to protect certain views into and out of the village.”

He said many other villages could benefit from drawing up their own local plans, especially on issues such as housing for local people and traffic.

The referendum follows a six-week consultation held earlier this year by the district council, when an independent examiner produced her official report recommending that the plan should go to referendum.

Mr Reeve said the parish council was “buoyed up” by comments made by the district council’s independent examiner who described the plan as “extremely well thought-out”.

A questionnaire organised by Lavenham Parish Council in 2013 provoked a 70 per cent response and helped shape the policies which focus on future development in the village which is popular with tourists.

These include limiting new developments to a maximum of 24 dwellings, and focuses on the introduction of smaller, more affordable homes which would give local people priority.

Mr Reeve said: “The next stage is that the plan goes before the full council at Babergh on September 20 to be agreed. This means that it will be taken into account as part of Babergh’s core strategy.”

He said councillors had spent the last 12 months just checking the plan.

“The plan itself looked pretty much the same as it did 12 months ago, but we have had to go through procedures.“

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