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Diss and district survey reveals what public want most

Picture by Graeme Taplin. Courtesy of Diss Town Council and Diss & District Neighbourhood Planning Group
Picture by Graeme Taplin. Courtesy of Diss Town Council and Diss & District Neighbourhood Planning Group

The chairman of a Diss and district neighbourhood planning group says he has been encouraged by the response to a recent consultation on the future of the district.

Mike Bootman said that with almost 500 written responses to the suggested development of seven parishes, the steering group now felt more confident to plan ahead.

The seven parishes
The seven parishes

A further 300 people responded to an online survey, entitled Draft Vision and Themes, bringing the total number of respondents to 830.

Some 85.7 per cent of all respondents agreed with the steering group’s overall vision for Diss, Burtson and Shimpling, Roydon, Scole, Brome and Oakley, Palgrave and Stutson to build a “vibrant community centred around a thriving market town”.

“The steering group wishes to thank all of the individuals, businesses and other organisations which took the time and trouble to respond, and a special thanks to those who put so much effort into their written responses,” said Mr Bootman.

“The outcome confirms the initial assessments of issues raised and the steering group now has the confidence and weight of public opinion when working with the organisations and authorities that are essential to take the development plan forward.”

The Draft Vision and Themes document went to consultation in mid-February against a closing date of March 16.

Some 6,800 documents, laying out suggested, general and specific developments across the seven parishes were outlined. Of the nine themes under consultation, community, leisure and wellbeing was the number one concern of residents, with 93.5 per cent of respondents agreeing that working with the NHS and other providers was most important, as well as assessing primary and secondary education provision, ensuring appropriate delivery of care in the community, access to local meeting places, public open spaces, activity areas and locations for arts, culture and entertainment.

This was marginally ahead by 0.39 per cent of suggestions for getting about, including carrying out traffic surveys, considering new road links to major routes, improving local traffic flows and reducing congestion.

Preserving environment, heritage and landscape came third with 90 per cent of respondents agreeing that protecting natural links between sites such as Wortham Ling, Roydon Fen, Frenze Beck and the course of the River Waveney were important.

Shopping came fourth with the aims of improving Diss by supporting local business, encouraging key traders and consumer service providers to establish themselves in the villages where they can, and locating non-high street uses away from central areas, sharing locations with commercial and industrial business and reducing the number of delivery vehicles.

Digital connectivity came fifth, followed by suggestions for the bigger picture, including influencing development of the A140 and A143 and establishing a working relationship with Waveney Valley Action Group.

Business and employment came last on the priority list, but still with 84 per cent of people supporting aims such as working with businesses and employers to identify needs, considering a skills and training hub and creating opportunities for businesses and employment in villages.

Respondents were aged between 18 and 85, with the majority (27.8 per cent) falling in the 65 to 74 age range, followed by 19.28 per cent aged between 55 and 64, and 13.71 per cent aged between 45 and 54.

“It is interesting that the traffic issues are, marginally, relegated to second place behind the community, leisure and wellbeing, with healthcare provision high on the list,” said Mr Bootman.

“The high ranking of environment, heritage and landscape suggests strength of feeling for protecting and preserving it and perhaps making more of the River Waveney, while digital connectivity is a clear concern.

“Surprisingly, housing and place, together with business, rank the lowest. This will be examined in greater detail to establish why.”

The Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan will eventually be submitted to South Norfolk District Council and Mid Suffolk District Council to support the two councils’ local plans.

It is the first time Diss Town Council has worked with surrounding parish councils to produce a joint neighbourhood plan.

“The steering group is planning further detailed research based on the results, including engaging with younger members of the community, through a business summit on May 18 and in conversation with other groups representing particular interests,” added Mr Bootman.

The consultation is the first of its kind across two counties.

See more at: http://www.dndneighbourhoodplan.co.uk

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