A plan for the development of Debenham, which has unprecedented community support, has been submitted to Mid-Suffolk District council.

It envisages housing development which could increase the population by at least 25% from 2,400 to over 3,000. 

Land for the building of 260 new houses is identified as part of the Neighbourhood Plan for sustainable development of the village.

The plan is the result of five years of exhaustive consultation about the future of Debenham. It celebrates the heritage and special landscape of the village and champions growth which delivers a sustainable, vibrant community. A key objective is to provide new homes in the right locations to meet the needs of the village including maintaining the range of shops and places to socialise.

Since a draft of the plan was supported by 85% of people who responded to a consultation in March, comments have been taken into account and the plan has been independently scrutinised by leading government approved planning consultants. There have also been extensive consultations with Mid Suffolk Council.

The consultants, Aecom, examined the seven sites potentially available for major new housing developments and their detailed assessment supports the recommendations in the Neighbourhood Plan for sites adjacent to the Ipswich and Eye roads. 

Steve Palframan, chairman of the parish council, said: “This a key moment which ensures Mid Suffolk decision makers should take into account the views of local people when considering planning applications. 

“We will support schemes which accord with the Neighbourhood Plan to expand the village while maintaining the special character of Debenham which makes it such an attractive place to live. We will continue to vigorously oppose plans which would damage the appearance or character of the village or do not answer our real housing needs.”

He stressed the Neighbourhood Plan would:

• Deliver sustainable phased housing growth avoiding infrastructure bottlenecks 

• provide the right housing in the right locations, avoiding single large estates 

• enable building of the quantity of housing required by national government and Mid Suffolk council with built-in flexibility to accommodate changes in these requirements
• protect and enhance the special historic and landscape character of the village

• avoid building over prominent views and providing landscaping between new and existing development and; 

• ensure a mix of housing, including affordable homes, which meets the needs of the community.

Last year Sajid Javid, then the cabinet minister responsible for housing, told the annual meeting of the National Association of Local Councils: “Neighbourhood Planning has revolutionised community involvement in the planning process, giving people a whole new voice in the big decisions that affect their lives. 

“Far from being the ‘NIMBY’s charter’ that some predicted, we’ve found that neighbourhood plans actually lead to more new homes getting built than would otherwise be the case. It’s a great example of the value of that bond between local councils and local people. Because, let me get one thing absolutely clear. Both myself and government remain absolutely, 100% committed to localism and devolution.”

The revised National Planning Policy Framework, published in March, says, local planning authorities may give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans according to the stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced its preparation, the greater the weight that may be given).

Debenham Neighbourhood plan is now at an advanced stage.

Following submission of the Neighbourhood Plan, Mid Suffolk District Council will have to ensure it complies with relevant legislation and appoint an independent examiner.

The examiner’s report will be considered by the council before it arranges a referendum.

If approved by the parish voters the neighbourhood plan will become a part of the legal development plan for the area.