Town's neighbourhood plan approved after referendum

Councillor Richard Stubbings with Chris Greenhill, chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Operational Group.

Councillor Richard Stubbings with Chris Greenhill, chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Operational Group. - Credit: Beccles Town Council

A town's neighbourhood plan has officially been approved after a referendum.

Three quarters of Beccles residents who voted in the referendum on September 16 were in favour of the proposals.

The result means the plan will now come into effect and must be taken into account when any planning applications in Beccles are considered by East Suffolk Council or the Broads Authority.

Mayor of Beccles, councillor Richard Stubbings, said: "I would like to take the opportunity to thank the people who gave up their time to draw up this plan and all the people who voted, as it demonstrates your commitment to Beccles.

"We are actively planning a number of improvement projects at the Quay at the moment and we hope the approval of the plan will give us more scope to fund further projects around the town over the next few years."

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A spokesperson for Beccles Town Council added: "The Town Council would like to thank all the members, past and present, of the Neighbourhood Plan Operational Group, who have worked hard over the last five years to put the plan together."

The implementation of the plan also means the amount of Community Infrastructure Levy (CiL) money that must be paid by housebuilders to support local communities increases from 15pc to 2pc, enabling the town council to set aside increased amounts of money to support infrastructure improvements in the town.

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The plan, which has been put together by local residents and the town council over the last five years, enable locals to have a greater say over issues affecting the town such as housing inequality, community facilities and the environment, which includes everything from traffic to heritage and tourism.

With a turnout of 18pc, a total of 1,437 votes were cast in the referendum, including 1,090 in favour and 347 against, as well as seven spoilt votes.

The plan highlights a number of challenges for Beccles today, including housing and inequality, employment, infrastructure, tourism and the environment.

It also focuses on the town centre's "potential as a shopping and social destination in an attractive historical setting," and concerns over regular traffic congestion, air pollution and speeding.

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