Saxmundham Neighbourhood Plan

Saxmundham Town Council responds to Suffolk Coastal’s draft Local Plan – strong question marks over “Garden Neighbourhood”

Thursday, February 21st, 2019 7:27 pm

As readers may know, Suffolk Coastal District Council has drawn up its final draft Local Plan for the period to 2036, with major impact on Saxmundham.  The draft Plan proposes a huge new 800 housing unit development to the south of the town, the “South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood” (SSGN).

The District Council and its planners listened to some of the very critical (and numerous) feedback to its earlier draft  of last summer, and in the light of  professional reports on heritage and landscape issues, have clearly recommended that the land west of the railway, known as The Layers, should not be built on but kept as open space for recreation and wildlife. 

However, they have stuck to the 800 dwellings proposal for a Garden Neighbourhood in the south, all of which would, as now proposed, be built between railway and A12.  There would also be new employment land on the west side of the A12. But the actual wording of their new policies is still too weak, in terms of protecting The Layers from development.  The whole site including The Layers is still labelled on a map as “mixed development”, which gives rise to concerns.

Saxmundham Town Council has looked at all the Local Plan proposals in some depth, at its meeting on 11th February, and has some points of agreement, many questions and some strong disagreements.  Its written response runs to 20 pages. 

You can download the Town Council’s full response here:

 Response for STC to Local Plan 19 Feb.

The main part on Saxmundham-specific policies starts at page 11.

Saxmundham Town Council’s response

The Town Council has given its broad backing to many of the general policies in the draft Plan, as they apply to the local economy, town centres, climate change etc.  There are many positive proposals in these and other areas. However, the Town Council has also highlighted what it sees as many flaws or problems of the specific SSGN growth proposals for Saxmundham.

While wanting the town to grow in size to a reasonable extent in coming years, it sees the District’s proposals to add nearly 50% (some 2,000) to the population as being excessive. The Town Council also supports a split site solution for new housing development, with some in the south (west of railway), and some to the east (Church Hill).  It also has concerns about the transport links of the new “Garden Neighbourhood” on to the A12 and to the town centre. It wants the policy wording tightened to properly protect The Layers.

In addition, it feels that the draft Plan fails to take into account the full impact of the Sizewell C and other major energy infrastructure plans from EDF and others, which will undoubtedly affect the SSGN plans.

Responding to the District Council’s Plan…

At this stage, the whole Plan is still out for consultation, but (a) only to next Monday 25th February, and (b) only on issues of planning or legal “soundness”, i.e. one sould show that it is wrong in terms of good planning principles. 

If you want to send in your own response to SCDC, you can do so online, which is their preferred way, or by email or post.  Given the timescale, email may be the easiest.  You can send to: 

Their form can be downloaded from here.

You need to state which paragraphs or policies you are commenting on, and whether and why you think they are “unsound”.  This can be quite complex, and the online form is not simple to complete. If (but only if) you agree with the Town Council’s view on any issue, you could for example respond by referring to the section of the TC’s response, stating that you agree, or agree in part, with the Town Council’s response.  

Next stages in the process

After the 25th February, the District Council collate all the responses and pass them on (unanswered) to the Planning Inspector/Examiner who will look at the dossier and hold public hearings into the “soundness” of the draft Plan. The hearing is likely to be in June, with the Inspector’s recommendations in September.  The District Council (which merges with Waveney to form East Suffolk, on 1st April) is due to adopt the Plan finally, before the end of 2019.