The first Borough-wide Ipswich Local Plan was adopted in May 1997 and covers the period until 2006. In line with Government guidance, a review of that Plan commenced in 1999 and the First Deposit Draft Local Plan was published for public consultation in November 2001. But a Bill, currently going through Parliament, has brought this system to a standstill.
The most sweeping update of planning legislation for forty years proposes a fundamental change to the way in which the system operates, particularly the policy framework. When the Act comes into force (Spring 2004?) Local Plans and County Structure Plans will be abolished and replaced with Local Development Documents (LDDs). Despite being some distance into the existing Local Plan process, and having received and analysed thousands of comments, Ipswich Borough Council have decided to be innovative and to be one of the first to produce a Local Development Document.
The First Draft Local Plan was in its way innovative, using an interactive CD to spread the message to the business community. This proved very successful with two local maps, each with pictures of nearly all the featured planning sites, video clips and the whole of the 250-page report.
The Borough received almost 3000 representations. Each was read, analysed and categorised. 60% were on three main issues - Hayhill Housing, Northern Fringe Housing and Access to the Port. As a result at an IBC Executive meeting in September 2002 it was agreed that the East and West Bank Link Roads should be deleted from the Second Draft, but that the housing proposals remain in the Plan. It is interesting to speculate what will happen to these issues now the Local Plan process has been dropped.
The IBC Executive meeting on 4 March 2003 agreed to the new system, but until LDDs are produced and adopted, the 1997 Local Plan and the First Deposit Draft (2001) remain the Council's statement of planning policy.
JOHN NORMAN Vice-Chairman