COLUMN: Richard Bacon MP - ‘Neighbourhood plan could hold key to solving Diss’ infrastructure issues’

MP for South Norfolk, Richard Bacon.
MP for South Norfolk, Richard Bacon.

It will come as no surprise to readers that Diss has long-standing problems with road infrastructure that need addressing.

This is especially true of the junction at Victoria Road and Vinces Road.

Anyone sat waiting in traffic at the Vinces Road junction can be forgiven for wondering whether things will ever get any better

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk

Anyone sat waiting in traffic at the Vinces Road junction can be forgiven for wondering whether things will ever get any better.

In fact, over the years, there have been several bids for funding to upgrade the junction, but, so far, without success.

Norfolk is a large county with thousands of miles of roads to look after; and plainly public funds are finite.

Diss needs to look for new solutions to these problems – and the Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan may just possibly provide the right answer.

This plan will eventually cover Diss, Roydon, Scole and Burston and Shimpling in Norfolk, as well as Palgrave, Stuston and Brome and Oakley in Suffolk.

Through the plan, these seven parishes will be able to choose where new homes, shops and offices should go, what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure the area will need to function properly.

An approved neighbourhood plan gives local councils a bigger share of the proceeds of growth, with 25 per cent of the community infrastructure levy receipts flowing into parish coffers.

This will allow local councils to invest in lasting solutions for long-standing infrastructure problems, rather than just making basic repairs.

I have written to my Suffolk neighbour and MP for the three Suffolk parishes, Dr Dan Poulter, to ask him to support the plans.

You can expect me to return to this subject in the months and years ahead.

LONG STRATTON

While we are on the subject of neighbourhood plans, my comments last month on future growth in Long Stratton prompted several readers to contact me directly with their views, which I welcome and encourage.

Some residents are understandably anxious about the coming growth in the village, so I wanted to use this month’s column to reassure local people. I can quite understand why long-standing residents have been worried.

Many years ago, there was a proposal for more houses and a bypass but (actually, due to a vote by councillors) we saw more houses in Long Stratton, but no bypass. However, I don’t believe that a repeat of this is now at all likely.

Firstly, South Norfolk Council is very vigilant in making sure that there is no repeat of those dark days – a bypass funded mainly by development has been a matter of public policy since 2011, when it was included in the joint core strategy for South Norfolk Council, Broadland District Council and Norwich City Council.

Secondly, Long Stratton Parish Council is determined to ensure that the voice of residents is heard clearly – the parish is busy developing a neighbourhood plan where local people have a real say.

Thirdly, developers are now much more concerned to ensure that services including health, education and telecommunications keep pace with growth.

This is an exciting time for Long Stratton and the residents now have an opportunity to make Long Stratton an even better place to live, with new facilities and a cleaner, greener environment.

I would strongly urge everyone in the Diss area and in Long Stratton to embrace their neighbourhood plan projects and get involved.