Mid Suffolk District Council leader says authority ‘working hard’ to secure land supply

Mid Suffolk District Council has appointed Cllr Nick Gowrley as its new leader ANL-160429-115119001
Mid Suffolk District Council has appointed Cllr Nick Gowrley as its new leader ANL-160429-115119001
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The leader of Mid Suffolk Council says it is working hard to secure a five-year land supply plan after recently losing two controversial planning appeals.

Nick Gowrley, who took over the leadership role from Derrick Haley earlier this year, says the situation is improving with the council having now secured 3.7 years’ worth of land identified for housing.

It’s true we haven’t got a five-year land supply secured but it has gone from 3.3 to 3.7 this year so it is improving

Nick Gowrley

The council has faced criticism in recent months after planning inspectors overruled its refusal of two unpopular housing schemes in Stowupland and Needham Market with residents in Onehouse near Stowmarket fearing a proposed 300 home development in Union Road may go the same way.

Although he respected residents’ concerns, Nick said the council was moving in the right direction.

“There is a demonstrable need for housing and over the next 20 years Mid Suffolk needs to find 20,000 homes,” he said.

“One of our strategic priorities is getting the right kind of homes in the right place.

“There needs to be a mix of property.

“The government are giving us more money for infrastructure and housing provision. This can only help these things.

“It’s true we haven’t got a five-year land supply secured but it has gone from 3.3 to 3.7 this year so it is improving.

“But 65 per cent of local authorities also don’t have one.

“It is one of our strategic priorities to have that in place and up and running by 2017.

“We will also have a local plan in place by 2017 and are developing a strategy of how we can deal with this shortfall.

“But just because there is a shortfall, that doesn’t give developers free licence for developments.

“That is what the inspectorate is for.

“In the case of the Stowupland development for example, we had a good case and put up a robust defence, but the inspector didn’t agree.

“We will defend all our housing decisions as good as we can.

“Having said that, there is a need for housing and we need to be moving in the right direction.

“Another issue is we have something like 1,200 houses already approved which haven’t been built. We are working making sure developers deliver on these.”

Nick said the council were also working hard to help deliver neighbourhood plans in the Mid Suffolk and Babergh districts.

He said: “We are there to support them and have a team to help parishes with their plans.

“We also have a referendums coming up Babergh including in Mendlesham and Lavenham.

“They are coming in now, so they are happening.”

Mid Suffolk has joined the county’s other local authorities in pushing forward with plans for devolution which could see millions invested in the region.

Nick said these were exciting times for Suffolk.

“You need to look at the benefits of devolution for the whole region. It is a fantastic opportunity for us with new money coming in.”