UPDATES in LEGISLATION and NEW CIRCUMSTANCES that affect the
MELTON NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
1. A Climate Change State of Emergency
On 21st Suffolk County Council declared a Climate Change State of Emergency and that they would:
“Set up a PDP(Personal Development Plan), commencing by September 2019, to investigate ways to cut Suffolk County Council’s carbon and harmful emissions on a spend to save basis, with the ambition to make Suffolk County Council (including all buildings, schools and services) carbon neutral by 2030.
work with partners across the county and region, including the LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and the Public Sector Leaders, towards the aspiration of making the county of Suffolk carbon neutral by 2030.
work with Government to a) deliver its 25-year Environment Plan and b) increase the powers and resources available to local authorities in order to make the 2030 target easier to achieve.”
On 24th July 2019 East Suffolk Council voted unanimously to join other local Councils in recognising a Climate Change State of Emergency and to: “step up its positive work on environmental issues to help fight climate change”
2. Net biodiversity Gain rule
The NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) now asks that new developments show a Net Biodiversity Gain. The NPPF is also tougher on environmental issues generally now since it’s last update in February 2019. In the Spring Statement in 2019 the Chancellor also confirmed they would be using the forthcoming Environment Bill to mandate ‘biodiversity net gain’ – meaning that the delivery of much-needed infrastructure and housing was not at the expense of vital biodiversity - although this is yet to become law since the last election. The new Local Plan which is about to be finalised by East Suffolk also states:
“New development should provide environmental net gains in terms of both green infrastructure and biodiversity. Proposals should demonstrate how the development would contribute towards new green infrastructure opportunities or enhance the existing green infrastructure network as part of the development. New development must also secure ecological enhancements as part of its design and implementation and should provide a biodiversity net gain that is proportionate to the scale and nature of the proposal.”
3. Sizewell C update
We are now on Stage 4 of this consultation. Melton continues to face many potential issues if it goes ahead in terms of how EDF will manage the traffic and whether we have a mainly road led scheme or an integrated road and rail one. EDF are also talking about putting in pylons instead of underground cabling, a 2-village bypass is likely and the park and ride site has still not been confirmed so there is still a threat of it being placed at the end of Woods Lane.
4. Northern By-pass
This proposal from Suffolk County Council not only includes three possible road routes but also another 20,000+ houses. The specific issues for Melton would be focused around the Outer Route Junction proposed at Woods Lane Roundabout / A1152. The A1152 is already at capacity. It is the sole road access from the peninsular and is hampered by a small bridge, a rail crossing, traffic lights and developments on all sides. The traffic on this particular stretch of the A12 is also always heavy and it takes very little to cause a backlog so adding another major road onto a pinch point that is already under stress will only make it much worse. If this happens it could be disastrous.
5. Suffolk draft Local Plan
This has now been through an Independent Examination and Melton Parish Council have contributed feedback throughout the process. We are largely covered by the fact that we already have a Neighbourhood Plan with a site allocation for approx.. 55 new houses and for that reason no more housing has been allocated to us. However once the Inspector has come back with his conclusions in April we will need to double check that our NP still complies with everything in the final version.
6. Woods Lane Stage 2
The Bloor development at the top of Woods Lane is in it’s final phase. The whole stretch of Woods Lane has now been made 30mph and it has also been re-surfaced although there are plans for Highways to do this again later in 2020. The Parish Council is investing in a mobile speed indicator sign and one of the positions for this will be on Woods Lane. Whilst this is a development we fought to stop it has given us a significant amount of CIL money which we can spend on the community… and some lovely new residents, one of whom is a Parish Councillor.
7. Village Hall consultation
The current Neighbourhood Plan (NP) contains a policy which encourages a new village hall to be built. Since the NP was made however we have had further consultation on this with the community and the consensus seems to be to move to a replacement of the pavilion rather than construct a village hall on the playing field. If WC facilities are to be provided then there might be a strong argument for siting a new pavilion adjacent to the car park for access for servicing. There has also been serious on-going anti-social behaviour / drug use etc around the current pavilion, so location for safety / security etc must be a strong consideration in any plans for a new building.
There will be further consultation on this idea but we will be suggesting that we update the NP to show that this is the more likely scenario and there is flexibility on siting.
8. Concerns about / protection of rural bus services
Over the last two years we have had services cut altogether and routes changed. This means that for elderly people in Melton there is much more restriction for them in terms of public transport and it does create some real isolation problems. The Parish Council has been working with other local Parish Councils to put pressure on First Bus and the County Council to try and remedy this situation. The County Council does not pay for the service itself but instead asks private bus companies to do so. This means we are at the whim of private companies and their profit margins but maybe one solution would be encouraging the setting up of a ‘Community Transport Scheme.’ This is something we could refer to by adding policy on it to the refreshed NP. It would not be a business run by the Parish Council – it would be have to be a third party, although we could give support.
9. Site Allocation – Carter/Warburg
We have so far been unable to get much traction on delivering the site allocation in our NP but we are working hard with all the various parties concerned (3 different landowners, developer and residents) to get it delivered in the way that was promised to us. We are concentrating on finding some way to get the access for the entire site along the edge of the Carter land and Riduna and out through the bottom past the East Suffolk building. We do not want vehicular access through St Andrews. We also want to make sure that the Net Biodiversity Gain rule is strictly applied to this site and also the inclusion of the numerous community benefits planned.
10. Divestment of green spaces planned from ESC and identification of others
Over the next two years 2020-2022 we are hoping to take control of various small areas of divested land, in Melton from East Suffolk District Council. Some of these are just small corners between roads or houses with a hedge or couple of trees – others are more significant and will require maintenance and care which will cost time and money. CIL contributions (Community Infrastructure Levy – we get 25% from all developments as we have a ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plan) will help us maintain these new areas. Some of them we can also use to do some of the things we have highlighted in our plan such as – landscaping and parking in the area opposite McColls – new play areas for children etc.
11. Ongoing issue with Hopkins Homes over the former bowling green and other community facilities at St. Audrey’s i.e. cricket ground
Former Bowling Green
Currently in real terms this important community space hardly exists as a bowling green because over 10 years Hopkins have allowed it to fall into disrepair and not maintained it contrary to the original s106 requirement. It has now been reduced to a building site in preparation for a new planning application for housing. However in an effort to save it, it has at the same time been declared an Asset of Community Value at the behest of residents (although unfortunately this can't stop Hopkins from putting in a Planning Application).
There is major concern by residents that the footpath around the site that links Garrod Approach with Hospital Grove and Footpath 27 to Yarmouth Road, currently blocked by Hopkins, should be re-opened. Suffolk County Council’s Rights of Way team are considering a request by residents to have a right of way established. The updated NP should strongly support the creation and retention of a right of way (regardless of the end result in terms of the former bowling green site.)
If we were able to declare this former bowling green a “local green space” in the new NP, we need to do so not just due to the desire of local residents but in order to create and enhance the site for local amenity - if such a use can be viable. This needs careful thought.
Policy SCLP8.2 of the emerging East Suffolk Local Plan makes it clear that the new plan will include a presumption against development that involves the loss of open space or community sport and recreational facilities. However proposals that result in its reduction will be allowed where: “the proposal is ancillary to the open nature of the area and will enhance….local amenity and be of greater community…benefit”. The focus of the new NP at this stage should perhaps be to have the site declared a designated ‘local green space’ but also to strongly support community acquisition if this were an option.
12. Removal of hedgerows during development
A hedgerow is protected when on arable land but when that land is given planning permission for development hedgerows are no longer protected by law and are almost always removed. We will be working with SWT to look at the ecology all around Melton, including trees, hedgerows and areas of special interest for rare species etc. By doing a comprehensive survey we can then look at how we can strengthen policy to put more protection on these things when and if development happens.
13. GAH development noise issues
During the footings stage of this development on Melton Road a large pile driver was used for a period of several weeks. The noise level and vibration caused by this was not only appalling for immediate residents but could be heard from several miles away. Whilst there is very little we can do through the NP to stop things like this happening at all we can look at adding a policy which asks for developers to limit the time they use machinery of this kind near other people so maybe asking that time is limited from 9am – 4pm and only 5 days a week.
14. CIL is received now at a higher rate (25% rather than 15%) due to having NP in place
The Parish Council has been working on putting a plan in place to identify and prioritise projects in the community we can use this money for – such as crossing points on Melton Road. The public will be consulted on how they would like to see this money spent and this will happen in conjunction with the consultation events planned for this 'refresh' of the NP.
15. Yarmouth Road Application
This was submitted during the final year of making our Neighbourhood Plan and we fought it (alongside East Suffolk District Council) but as soon as our NP was ‘made’ the application was withdrawn. Due to the fact that we a) have an NP and b) have a site allocation for housing within our NP it means we are less vulnerable to random developments of this nature which are neither suitable, wanted or needed in Melton.
As result of some of these changes above and after 2 years of having the Neighbourhood Plan in place to see how effective it is we need to consider making the following changes to our policies:
Mel4: Public transport
Proposal: This policy to remain broadly the same but will be tweaked to include encouragement of any new Community Transport Schemes that might be set up by a third party.
Mel9: Village Hall
Proposal: We will keep this broadly similar BUT re-word so that it is more generally about the provision of these facilities in whatever way possible and in terms of a new building could be EITHER a newly built Pavilion OR a Village Hall and so less specific on it just being a village hall.
Mel12: Protected green space
Proposal: We will look at adding the former Bowling Green and Cricket Ground at St Audreys. We also need to engage with the public to check where there may be other green spaces we need to protect.
Proposal: We will slightly re-word this policy to include ‘commercial’ boats. (Planning permission for a permanent mooring was given for the Deben Bar on HMS Vale. East Suffolk said our policy was not relevant because it only applied to residential boats).
Mel19: Old Maltings
Proposal: We will look at adding to this policy so that we have some protection of any remaining green area and even if parking is added it can’t be in a permanent structure, but instead open and with appropriate landscaping. Residents and the Parish Council were very against the new block of two tier parking bays that recently got planning permission on one of the few bits of green space left in this development.
Mel20: Carter/Warburg allocation
Point 10 – we have asked Highways for a transport survey and written opinion for this site allocation. Highways have already said that they would object to any proposal for housing that did not include a direct link for pedestrians and cyclists to the station.
We will see if we can add a new point about there having to be a Net Biodiversity Gain on site. Including planting of new trees, protection of hedgerows etc. We will also seek advice from Suffolk Wildlife Trust on this.
Non Land Use Issues:
Take out point 2 as now done
Take out point 11 as now done
Do we need Points 7 and 9?
Points 3 and 4 in the Longer Term bit should be in the first section.
Additions to current Policies (not sure where appropriate) OR additional Policies:
Proposal: New policy that requires a Construction Management Plan for all developments and reference things such as noise esp. in built up areas.
Proposal: Add back our section on St Audreys which was in the first draft of the plan.
Proposal: A possible new policy which encourages renewable energy – small, local windfarms, solar energy fields – are there any suitable sites?
E.G a Policy like the following:
Proposals for individual and community scale energy from hydro-electricity, solar photovoltaic panels, local biomass facilities, anaerobic digestions and wood fuel products will be supported subject to the following criteria: • the siting and scale of the proposed development is appropriate to its setting and position in the wider landscape; and • the proposed development does not create an unacceptable impact on the amenities of local residents; and • the proposed development does not have an unacceptable impact on a feature of natural or biodiversity importance.
Proposal: A new policy which encourages Energy Efficient development – building materials used, eco energy generating devices installed etc?
Proposal: Green Infrastructure - Development proposals should seek to maintain and enhance the connectivity of all green corridors where possible. Identify opportunities for new tree and woodland planting in the parish. Protection of hedges.
Process and Consultation:
Apply for more grant funding to do this work
Open day event(s) to get initial feedback from residents on above ideas and anything else missed
Ask Suffolk Wildlife Trust to do a full survey of Melton
Re-write Neighbourhood Plan in Draft using all above feedback, survey results etc
Further Open Day (s) to public to get final feedback on proposed changes
East Suffolk to approve changes.
Will we need an Independent Examiner to approve the changes?
Will we need a New Referendum?
We will communicate all of this via:
- the Parish Council website
- this NP website
- the Melton Messenger Newsletter which goes to every household once a month
- posters around the village
- information at shops, the Church, pub etc
- information on E-News
- Information on Nextdoor
We will have at least 4 'walk-in' events. There will also be an online survey and forms for people to fill in if they are unable to attend an event OR to use the internet.