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Representation 9784 on BMSDC Joint Local Plan Consultation Document (Interactive) by Mr Colin Johnston

Support / Object: OBJECT
Document Link: BMSDC Joint Local Plan Consultation Document (Interactive) - Vision & Objectives
Representation: Babergh's planning documents talk about the importance of:- addressing climate change, having access to services, using sustainable forms of transport. It is quite clear that if you want to achieve these things then people have to live in or close to jobs and service centres. It therefore makes sense for most of any new housing development to be located in and around the towns and largest villages.

Original submission

9th November 2017



Draft Joint Local Plan Response


I have already made some responses on the on-line consultation. This set of comments is an attempt to say what I think is important rather than be 'tramlined' down a set of prepared questions.

In the past people, in the main, people lived in a settlement and worked there or near by; sustainable modes of transport (before the internal combustion engine) were used. In the present day planners and politicians invoke the sustainability of such arrangements and extol the virtues of people living in urban centres, where most jobs are, along with appropriate services and infrastructure. This should be the starting point for Babergh's strategy on housing.

Babergh's planning documents talk about the importance of:- addressing climate change, having access to services, using sustainable forms of transport. It is quite clear that if you want to achieve these things then people have to live in or close to jobs and service centres. It therefore makes sense for most of any new housing development to be located in and around the towns and largest villages.

There seems to be an urban bias in much of what goes on in planning i.e what is good for urban areas can be applied to the rural areas. I disagree with this. The main points I want to make are as follows:-

1. Most new housing should be in the towns and large villages (up to 80%). All new development should be accompanied by adequate resources to enhance services, facilities and infrastructure. The people affected are likely to be less hostile if they get something back. People are also warmer to the establishment of an entirely new settlement (as long as it's not near them) because infrastructure and services will be planned in and , as it is new, everything should be fit for purpose.
2. Small villages and hamlets should be seen as entities which are happy in their own skin. They do not need to be turned into commuter or dormitory villages. Their size goes with their character and their lack of facilities is their appeal. They are there to live alongside the countryside not to challenge or dominate it. Having no paved footpaths or street lighting is part of why we live here! More houses will create a demand for these comforting signs of 'civilisation' and destroy what we have. Planners and politicians do not appreciate the delicate ecosystem which our smallest settlements present and which residents value. Shouldn't the views of existing residents have some weighting here? please
3. In the village in which I live, Shimpling, I take issue with the desktop exercise which redrew the village boundary. This failed to recognise that the meadow (casually now included inside the BUAB) was the subject of some discussion last year when planning was allowed next to it. There is now a TPO on a splendid oak tree in this meadow which is a precious green asset. Would you now put the BUAB line back where it was please?
4. I support the downgrading of Shimpling from hinterland village to hamlets and countryside. This, at least, is a better recognition of the fact that it is, a non-sustainable village. This surely should offer it some protections against the development applications which are currently in danger of swamping us? If we go back to 'sustainability' being the key criterion for all things planning related, then the non sustainable villages should be exempt from development.
Economic need should be the only exceptional criterion on deciding on development in unsustainable settlements like Shimpling. If there is a need for a person to live in the village as part of his/her job, then that should be a consideration in the planning process.
5. The Authority should offer support to non sustainable villages like Shimpling so that they can counter the large number of planning applications which simply swamp our resources. Producing a neighbourhood plan is not the way to go for these small settlements but we need some mechanism to enable us to be more proactive. We feel abandoned by the local authority.
6. By suggesting that neighbourhood plans are the only partial defence against inappropriate development, the Authority is neglecting those villages like Shimpling which need another route. As part of its new plan Babergh must recognise the different needs and identity of the small rural settlements.
7. Current planning rules give even more power to speculators, developers and landowners. Villages like Shimpling simply do not have the resources to compete when it comes to challenging inappropriate development. The local authority seems to have no interest in our plight where the few can dictate to the many. If there is any local democracy out there we don't see it in action. Villages like this surrounded by farmland are 'easy pickings' for those who want to 'release land' for building purposes.
8. We need the local authority to take a firmer line in speaking up for the rural areas, their distinctiveness in terms of landscape and heritage qualities and the importance of small being beautiful. The draft local plan is (necessarily, I concede) statistical and functional, but where is there an inflection to beauty, quality of life and the health related benefits of walking along lanes and ditches and having sweeping views? When you have crunched every bit of data and tarmaced as much open space as you can what are you left with?


H Colin Johnston


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