Progress on Forest Heath’s local plan

Forest Heath District Council's offices
Forest Heath District Council's offices

A new local plan for Forest Heath is a step nearer after the council’s cabinet members approved a series of documents for public consultation.

The plan will give the council a framework on which to base its planning decisions for the first time since significant parts of its original 2010 plan were quashed by the High Court in March 2011 following an appeal by protesters against the Hatchfield Farm development in Newmarket.

The court said the council had failed to provide adequate information and explanation of the choices made so as to demonstrate it had tested all reasonable alternatives for residential growth in that part of Newmarket.

Without a local plan, the planners can only use national guidelines when making planning decisions. There have been complaints this has left villages exposed to unsuitable speculative developments.

The new documents say Forest Heath needs 7,000 new homes by 2031 and propose four options which all recognise ‘environmental constraints’ limit the scope for development in Brandon.

The options are to concentrate on Mildenhall, Newmarket and Lakenheath; to focus on Lakenheath and Red Lodge with ‘medium growth’ in Mildenhall and Newmarket; to focus on Lakenheath and Mildenhall, plus the planned Red Lodge extension or to focus on Mildenhall, Newmarket and Red Lodge but with more growth in ‘primary villages with capacity’.

The council hopes to start the consultation process in mid-August, to run into October.

James Waters, Forest Heath District Council Leader and Cabinet member responsible for planning and growth, said: “Next month I will be encouraging everyone who lives and works in Forest Heath to have their say because the decisions we take in the next few months will affect our future generations and we need to get them right.”