MEET THE TEAM
The Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
Most neighbourhood plans focus on a single parish, and the steering group usually comprises individuals from the local Parish Council plus volunteers from the wider community.
The Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan is different in that it covers an area that comprises seven parishes, over two local authority areas. The steering group needs to be representative of this mix, and we therefore have representatives from each area, and the group is chaired by an independent District Councillor. Whilst not a part of the Diss Town Council, the steering group benefits from a good working relationship with the Town Clerk Sarah Richards and her team.
We also benefit from the input of a working group - comprising volunteers tasked with researching and gathering evidence to support the development of policies, plus a part time project officer and a planning consultancy experienced in developing Neighbourhood Plans.
Chair - David Burn
I have lived in Yaxley, just outside the DDNP area, for 30 years, during which I have mainly used Diss for supplies and services, so I know it and its environs well. Almost 10 years ago I was elected to Mid Suffolk District Council where I am now cabinet member for planning. In my capacity as ward member for the Suffolk parishes participating in the DDNP I have been attending meetings of the Steering Group as an observer since it was first formed. Its members asked me to chair the meetings when the position became vacant in September 2018.
We have representatives from across the South Norfolk and Mid-Suffolk Local Authority areas.
All can be contacted via the email@example.com address, or through their local Parish Council.
South Norfolk parish representatives
Diss Town Council
I moved with my family to Diss from Manchester in 1983. Since retiring in 2013, I followed my interests in how the town was changing particularly with regard to new development and infrastructure. Initially, this was with the local resident’s association but for the last two and a half years with the Town Council where I chair the Planning Committee.
I joined the steering group two years ago because of my passion to see Diss grow in a structured way with the right amount of development in the right place. I also wanted to influence the need for better infrastructure to cater for the growth in Diss.
I’ve lived in Diss all my life, and work for Royal Mail delivering to Diss and neighbouring villages. I joined Diss Town Council as a Councillor in 2004 as I wanted to shape the place where I live. Through my council role I was and am able to endeavour to make our town a better place to live. Over time Diss has changed particularly with regard to new development and infrastructure. In my time on the Town Council I have been Chair of the Planning & Highways Committee, now the Infrastructure Committee. I have sat on various committees/groups for different projects in the town. My proudest moment however was being elected first Deputy in 2006 but then Town Mayor a year later, which I was for two years and the youngest Mayor at 36 years old in Diss’s history. In 2019 I was elected Council Leader. I have been passionate about Diss and the surrounding villages for some time and decided to join the Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group in 2018.
My aim is for Diss and the villages to grow in a reasonable manner and receive good quality development in the right places. Only by the parishes working together I believe we can achieve this.
My wife Liz and I moved here from Essex in 2017 following my retirement. We love the area and the town, and I am keen to do what I can to help Diss flourish whilst retaining the unique character that originally attracted us. During my working life I acquired a broad range of skills that I believe can be of benefit to the people of Diss, and it’s great to be able to give something back to the community now I have sufficient time to do so.
I have worked in blue collar, technical, managerial and executive roles, starting with British Rail and then the NHS, before setting up my own project management consultancy, finally working with Local Authorities, Housing Associations & Developers to deliver affordable housing schemes. My experience includes consultation and negotiation, commercial, financial, design and risk management, all of which should be useful when working on the Diss & District Neighbourhood Plan.
Burston and Shimpling Parish Council
I moved to Norfolk in 1988 and enjoy living in such a rural area. I joined the Neighbourhood Plan so as to influence the way the area develops, for people and wildlife.
Roydon Parish Council
I moved to Roydon in 1980. I worked as a veterinary surgeon in Diss for 26 years before retirement.
Joining Roydon Parish council in 2007, I have been Chairman for the past six years. I joined the Steering group of the DDNP at its inception with a view to contributing to a project which should direct the future of the seven parishes, as local people wish, rather than others who may have less knowledge of the area and its needs.
I have lived in Roydon for six years and joined the steering group in May 2019 when I became a parish councillor. The position of second parish representative on the steering group was vacant and I thought it a good opportunity to find out more about the Neighbourhood Plan and to see if I could aid communication back and forth between Roydon residents and the steering group.
Scole Parish Council
I have lived in Scole Parish since 2017. I am a retired primary school teacher, most recently heading up a service for children with literacy difficulties.
I joined the steering group in 2019 to represent the people of Scole and to support the chair of the Parish Council in developing a workable neighbourhood plan.
I’ve lived in Scole Parish since 2004 and have been Chairman of Scole Parish Council for some 11 years. I am now fully retired after 38 years of running my own international telecommunications consultancy and have never been so busy!
I was one of the original members of the DDNP Steering Group and have always believed that as a group of 7 Parishes we would have a better chance of creating a plan that would truly represent the aspirations of our community.
Mid- Suffolk Parish representatives
Brome and Oakley
I moved to Oakley three and a half years ago from Hitchin in Hertfordshire. I live here with my wife. We have two grown-up girls, both living and working in Hertfordshire.
I retired 18 months ago after 33 working in international telecommunications; the last 12 years of which were running my own consulting and contracting business. I have a BSc in Geology and an MSc in Mineral Chemistry.
I'm Chair of Brome and Oakley Parish Council, and have lived in this area most of my life. I am a Director on the board of Eyes Open CIC Ltd which is a local arts centre company, and I also work part-time at a retailer, a Reiki teacher and a patisserie cook for private clients.
I moved back to Suffolk in 2000 after working for 15 years in the City Of London within the stockbroking and banking sectors.
Sharon Cousins Clarke
I’ve lived in Palgrave since 2016 having moved from Norwich. I work in economic development at Norwich City Council and hold a first degree in Economics and a Masters qualification in Market & Social Research.
I joined the Steering Group in 2019, because of my background and job I have experience in developing local plans. I'm a Parish Councillor for Palgrave.
I've lived in the village for five years. My background is in water supply management, land drainage & development planning having run own business for 20 years. Previously at Anglian Water as engineer and management of Developer Services Team. After appointment following a parish meeting, I joined D+DNP to offer whatever knowledge I have to the community at large.
I'm a retired businessman, having owned a group of printing and packaging companies in the latter stages of my career. I have a post graduate degree in chemical engineering, working initially in the oil and chemical industries holding both executive and non-executive positions in a number of companies. In retirement I spend my time as chairman of Diss Golf Club and chairman of Stuston Parish Meeting.
I lived in the village for many years, but have recently re-located to Redgrave, and as a member of the Parochial Church Council managed a £250,000 restoration project at All Saints Church in Stuston funded largely from a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Project Support and Consultancy
Neighbourhood Plans involve significant amounts of work, and can take several years from start to finish. The finish line is when the plan is made, which is when it is voted for at a community referendum. The Government offers funding to complete these projects, and steering groups can apply for funds to pay for professional support. South Norfolk Council has also contributed funds to the D&DNP development.
The Project Officer provides administrative support to the group, and is the first point of contact for anyone wishing to find out more. We have also appointed Mark Thompson and Louise Cornell from Collective Community Planning who bring a wealth of experience and practical knowledge to the team.
Covid Update: The steering group is now holding monthly meetings online, due to social distancing restrictions, and work continues to identify local assets across the seven parishes. This work is being undertaken with the invaluable help from a working group comprising a small team of volunteers. You can find out more on this on the Working Group Info Hub on this site.
Stephanie has been supporting the steering group since Feb 2019, having previously worked with Poringland Parish Council’s neighbourhood plan steering group in a similar capacity as they move their neighbourhood plan towards referendum. She has a background is in communications and community engagement.
If you have questions about the neighbourhood plan, would like to be added to our contact list or get involved in some way, please drop Stephanie an email:
please note, Stephanie works around five hours a week on the project so there may be a few days delay in receiving a response.
Planning Consultant, Collective Community Planning
Louise is the founder of CCP. She has over 15 years experience in strategy and policy development including planning, transport planning, corporate services and health and social care services. This includes significant experience working in the public sector as a change manager.
In recent years Louise has built up significant expertise in supporting communities to develop Neighbourhood Plans, advising on all aspects of policy development.
Planning Consultant, Collective Community Planning
Mark works on projects with Louise. He has a diverse background in behavioural science (BSc), transportation (MSc), planning consultancy, and strategy development. In recent years he has developed invaluable experience in developing Neighbourhood Plans and securing planning permission for challenging residential developments.