The housing challenges and opportunities in Babergh were discussed at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in Westminster.
The Leader of Babergh District Council, Councillor John Ward, the Chief Executive of Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, Arthur Charvonia and South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, met the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid in London on Wednesday March 21.
Babergh District Council has already granted planning permission for a significant number of the homes which will be needed in the district over the next 20 years. Many of these will be built on small sites with some larger developments, including at Chilton Woods, Wolsey Grange, Brantham and HMS Ganges.
However, because of the way development currently occurs, only a small proportion of these homes have been built – just 182 homes were completed this year.
The Leader of Babergh Council, Councillor John Ward said: "It was a very positive meeting. The Secretary of State was sympathetic and is willing to support us to ensure that development is sustainable and that new homes are being built in the right places in Babergh. The Secretary of State is willing to support us to use compulsory purchase orders if developers are ‘dragging their heels’; and to provide resources to help us to accelerate the delivery of our joint local plan, and recover our five year land position. If we are able to put together a housing deal with partners he has agreed to increase our Housing Revenue Account borrowing headroom so we can build more council homes."
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said: “I think it was important for our local council leadership to meet with the Secretary of State for Housing and express very clearly the concerns held in the constituency about speculative development. We are not a nimby community in South Suffolk but we do want development to be agreed locally as far as possible, and to have a sense of control in determining where new development goes. For this, we need a five year plan in place and as finalising the overall local plan for the district is the most important part of that, I am pleased the Secretary of State offered to help Babergh in accelerate the process of producing a plan. I will continue to make the case for national policy being sympathetic to councils like Babergh where they are doing the right thing and granting permissions in excess of target, but finding that developers are not building out those permissions, and that consequently they have lost their five year land supply and are vulnerable to speculative development.”