Following SCDC’s press statement a few days ago, I felt I should make one or two observations. These are:
1. Quote - …….”extensive consultation has taken place on the Local Plan”… We think not as there’s a difference between true ‘consulting’ and a consultation process. A process which might appear to comply with the rules has indeed been followed and one or two minor changes made to the first draft Local Plan. However, we suspect their introduction, for the most part at least, was planned way back, so the Council can demonstrate ‘meaningful’ consultation has taken place. What has not been done is proper engagement with the substance of the responses to the consultation document.
2. Quote - ……”will create the homes and bring in much-needed new jobs”…. Again, we think not. SCDC consistently use homes and new jobs in a cyclical way to justify one another. As pointed out by their own evidence base, new future jobs are going to come from the office / commercial sector, not the Port, and there are hundreds of acres already approved for that purpose between Felixstowe and Bury St Edmunds
3. Quote - “We have engaged with town and parish councils, as well as the local community …….” No there has been no real engagement. There has been contact and the council have then ignored absolutely everything those Parish Councils and the local community have said! It’s doubtful there has ever been such a community backlash to the Council’s proposals.
4. Quote – (The Local Plan)….”will strengthen our ability to reject inappropriate speculative applications in the future” We suspect a professional Objectively-assessed Needs Analysis (ONA) could have the same effect. Indeed, had SCDC’s planners adhered to their 2013 commitment to produce an ONA by 2015, we probably wouldn’t have 2000 unnecessary homes being built on Grade II agricultural land at the Grove. The Planning Department has a lot to answer for.