On Monday 3rd February, Lavenham Village Hall was packed with 105 representatives from more than 60 towns and parishes from all over Suffolk to discuss Neighbourhood Planning. The event was co-ordinated by Community Action Suffolk with partners from Suffolk County Council, six District Councils, Suffolk Association of Local Councils. It was generously hosted by Lavenham Parish Council.
Developing the idea from the community of Lavenham, this was first time such an event has ever taken place and shows how CAS and our partners are committed to helping local communities to thrive.
Carole Reilly Development Manager at Locality gave a very informative presentation on the background to Neighbourhood Planning and a general overview of the various tools available to communities under the Localism Act 2011. Heather Heelis from Rendlesham talked about their experiences of doing a Neighbourhood Development Plan and about the benefits it would give them in terms of their village centre and facilities.
Meanwhile Victoria Beech from Lavenham talked about how they had approached the process especially how they had consulted the community ensuring everyone was able to give their views.
There were workshops based on District Council areas so that people were able to meet their local planners/community teams and to discuss the processes in more detail, local planning issues and find out what support was available to them. There was also time for people to meet and talk to each other over lunch and then an opportunity to look at a variety of related topics in the afternoon if they wanted.
The event highlighted the interest communities have in taking the future into their own hands and showed the willingness for the various councils and other organisations to work together to provide integrated support to enable them to do that. Local networks are currently being set up by Community Action Suffolk to help communities network together and access helpful information.
Gillian Benjamin – Development Officer Community Planning
[email protected], 01473 345327.