Saxmundham Neighbourhood Plan

New draft Local Plan launched by District Council for consultation over summer holiday – let us know YOUR views

Friday, July 27th, 2018 1:05 pm

The new draft Local Plan was published by Suffolk Coastal District Council on Friday 20th July.  It offers a consultation period that closes on 14th September – in other words, precisely over the summer holiday period. (It is a long document at over 400 pages – a somewhat shorter section that looks at “Area specific strategies” including Saxmundham is downloadable here)

It has enormous implications for Saxmundham, for which it proposes a growth in new dwellings, from 2016 to 20136, of around 1100.  That is an increase in population of nearly 2,500, half again of our current town size.  This has potential advantages – if well planned, more people can mean more economic spending power and activity, and it could mean more positive things going on locally. Above all, if local people can afford the new housing, it offers families more chances to remain in our wonderful area of Suffolk.

But if not well planned, and without guarantees of infrastructure and services, such a scale of new development can badly wrong.  And it will certainly impact on traditional landscapes and ecology, and on its historic identity.

So what does the draft Local Plan propose?  For Saxmundham, the large majority of new development would be in what the planners call “South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood”, built between Saxmundham and Benhall (stopping just short of Benhall) on the west side of the road, and going across the railway to the A12.  The whole site would have 800 new homes (a fair part of the due to be ‘affordable’), a new primary school, and some land set aside for employment.  It is to be “master-planned” as a whole site, with lots of ‘green’ areas and paths.  There would be new road access both to the A12, and (via a new road crossing of the railway) to the B1121, which is the way into South Entrance and town centre.

The Saxmundham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group met to discuss the new proposals on Monday 23rd July.  The Group were extremely unhappy with the fact that the consultation is over the busiest holiday period.  They also felt that a lot more information and access to background planning documents is needed to enable a proper response on the substance of the proposal. 

A detailed letter making these points and asking for information has been sent to the District Council officers.  This includes seeking a guarantee that a new road crossing over the railway would be put in place right at the outset.  If not, the Steering Group feel that the site cannot be properly “master-planned” as a single “Neighbourhood”, and might lead to fragmented and badly connected development on both sides of the track.

We would like to hear from as many residents as possible in the near future. For example,

  • Do you agree in principle with the District Council proposal for a new South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood?
  • If so, do you think 800 new dwellings on the site is the right size, or too large?
  • Do you think the area on the east side of the railway down to the road (The Layers) should be built on?
  • Are there other areas of town (e.g. further up Church Hill to the brow) that could be the site of  more housing for the future?

Our Steering Group, and Saxmundham Town Council, intend to respond on the substance of the proposals by the deadline of 14th September, and need to know what local people think about it.   

You can write to us at: 

We already have quite a lot of feedback from public meetings and drop-in session.  In general, the nearest we have so far to a consensus is that we should accept a fair amount of further growth in housing, provided the infrastructure is guaranteed and put in place – and provided a good proportion of homes are affordable for local people.  But so far, those who have given views would favour increases in housing of around 500 to 750 for the period to 2036, so not as many as the 1000 or so proposed in the draft Local Plan (of which 800 in the ‘Garden Neighbourhood’).

PS The draft new Local Plan also has big implications for those of us involved in drawing up a Neighbourhood Plan for Saxmundham – which should in theory offer local choices of where development is to take place.  The new plans for our town in effect seem to narrow the scope down to a far narrower area of discussion and decision locally – we are in effect presented with a single option for any significant development, with little space for local choice,