Diss & District Neighbourhood Plan now ready for its final public test
The electorate in Diss and most of the surrounding parishes have been called to vote in a referendum on their local neighbourhood plan on Thursday, 28th September.
In 2017 Diss Town Council invited the parishes that surround it, on both sides of the county border, to join it in creating a neighbourhood plan to cover the entire combined area.
Six parishes accepted: Roydon, Burston and Shimpling and Scole, on the Norfolk side of the River Waveney; and Palgrave, Stuston and Brome & Oakley on the Suffolk side.
This multi-parish, cross-county Diss & District Neighbourhood Plan (DDNP) is believed to be the most complex undertaken since they were first introduced in the Localism Act of 2011. The Act aimed to give communities more of a say in how the areas in which they lived are developed.
Neighbourhood plans can say where development is preferred and can designate green spaces, unlisted heritage assets and valued views for protection against development that would diminish their amenity value. They can also influence the mix of housing and its design.
Since work began on devising the DDNP, residents in the seven parishes have been able to express their views through the many informal and formal consultations that have taken place. The finished draft plan was submitted to South Norfolk and Mid Suffolk District Councils for further public consultation, which was completed at the end of last year.
The statutory independent examination report was published in the middle of May and recommended a number of modifications. These have been carried out and the DDNP is now ready for its final hurdle – a public referendum, at which all registered electors are eligible to vote, to be held in the seven parishes on Thursday, 28th September.
David Burn, chairman of the steering group that has constructed the neighbourhood plan on behalf of the member parish councils, said: “We are hoping for a good turnout on the day, so that the result is as representative as possible. Putting the Plan together has been a huge amount of work for many people, most of them volunteers. We are very pleased with the end result, and we hope it will serve the community well over its 15-year lifespan.”
If approved by the electorate at the referendum, the DDNP will become one of the suites of policy documents that must be used by our local planning authorities, Mid Suffolk District and South Norfolk Councils, to assess the merits of planning applications and decide whether they should get planning permission or not.