Forest Heath’s District plan ready for public consultation

Forest Heath District Council Offices in Mildenhall ANL-151017-195951009
Forest Heath District Council Offices in Mildenhall ANL-151017-195951009

A long-awaited plan to give control over growth in Forest Heath’s communities for the next 15 years will soon be out for public consultation.

It replaces a district plan that was quashed by the High Court in March 2011 after the racing industry legally challenged it to stop the Hatchfields Farm housing development in Newmarket.

On Tuesday, Forest Heath’s Cabinet agreed to recommend to full Council next Wednesday that the final version of the plan goes out for consultation.

Cllr Lance Stanbury, cabinet member for Planning and Growth said: “Growth is happening now in our towns and villages and without a Local Plan to set the boundaries, developers put in speculative applications and growth is not easy to control.

“As a council, we have a duty to look across the entire district to assess areas that are appropriate for sustainable development.”

The Local Plan includes applications already in the system, as well as allocating new development, so many sites have already been consulted on.

Cllr Stanbury said: “The plan has evolved in close association with local communities. We have looked together at how to accommodate growth in our towns and rural areas.”

Without a district plan, the National Planning Policy Framework applies, which places the onus on developers to show any application is ‘sustainable’ in terms of infrastructure such as schools and highways and previous reasons for refusal become ‘obsolete’. Planners say growth is then developer led rather than community led or being part of an overall area plan.