It was a 97% overwhelming YES vote for the Referendum, the first in Suffolk, on 5 March 2015.
47% of those eligible to vote, took part in the vote - 262 postal votes were received and 783 voters turned up on the day.
This put Rendlesham joint 3rd in the country to have the highest percentage ‘Yes' votes, and just outside the top 5 in the country for percentage turnout - an amazing achievement!
The Neighbourhood Plan, which brought together 3 years of work, was formally accepted by Suffolk Coastal District Council as the Planning Policy document for Rendlesham on 19 March 2015.
Dave Rushbrook, Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Team and Parish Councillor said ‘This is a momentous day for the people of Rendlesham. The Neighbourhood Plan provides the blueprint for taking forward the aspirations of the village to provide the much needed infrastructure to build a sustainable and vibrant community.'
Kay Nash, Parish Council Chairman added ‘The support shown for the Plan at the Referendum goes far beyond anything the village has seen before. The Plan is a tremendous achievement and has brought the village together to work towards a better future and quality of life. This is true localism in action.'
In December 2014, the first Neighbourhood Plan in Suffolk was recommended to proceed to Referendum by the Independent Examiner, Nigel McGurk. Suffolk Coastal District Council considered the minor modifications and issued a decision statement in January 2015. MrMcGurk was very complimentary on the Plan saying that ‘The Rendlesham Neighbourhood Plan is the result of a significant, sustained community effort over a number of years. It demonstrates the passion that local people have for turning a vision for Rendlesham into a Neighbourhood Plan capable of delivering the sustainable development that the community needs.'
He continued ‘The striking thing about the Rendlesham Neighbourhood Plan is that it does not adopt a standard format, but still effectively builds from relevant background information into Objectives and Policies. Processes, legislation and relevant background are clearly explained, in plain English, throughout the Neighbourhood Plan. Plentiful photographs and plans add significant interest.'
‘I am satisfied that the production of the Neighbourhood Plan was supported by significant, comprehensive and well organised public consultation. It is clear to me that the views of the wider community were sought on a sustained and proactive basis and that these views have been fundamental to the production of the Neighbourhood Plan.'
‘It is a difficult task to ensure that background information remains both informative, interesting and importantly, relevant to the Policies of the Neighbourhood Plan. However, the Rendlesham Neighbourhood Plan has largely managed to achieve this and the positive outcome is a Neighbourhood Plan that is entirely distinctive to Rendlesham.'
The Parish Council are thrilled with the outcome of the report and the wonderful comments made by Mr McGurk. Kay Nash, Parish Council Chairman, said ‘It's been an incredible journey over the past 3 years, lots of hard work, commitment and determined enthusiasm by the Neighbourhood Plan Team. To be the first in Suffolk to have reached this stage is a fantastic achievement and we thank everyone who has been involved. Together we have achieved a major step forward in bringing the vision for Rendlesham closer to reality.'
The Rendlesham Neighbourhood Plan has been subject to extensive consultation throughout its preparation
‘I am now formally writing to confirm that the Council is satisfied that the “plan proposal” complies with the criteria for a neighbourhood plan as required by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Schedule 4B, paragraph 6 (4) Regulation 19.' (Suffolk Coastal District Council —2 September 2014)
The final and formal 6 week consultation, triggered by the Suffolk Coastal District Council decision to accept the Neighbourhood Plan, started in September 2014 and ended on 13 October 2014.
A drop in event was held on 16 September 2014 at Jubilee Park, for people to view the documents, ask any questions and discuss any part of the Neighbourhood Plan.
As a result of earlier feedback received by the Parish Council, some revisions were made to the original draft Plan and consultation opened on the revised Plan from 16th June 2014 to 27 July 2014. A public consultation event was held at Jubilee Park Rendlesham on 16 July 2014 with the Neighbourhood Plan Team on hand to answer questions and offer sight of hard copies of the Plan.
Dave Rushbrook, Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Team, explains ‘The content of the Neighbourhood Plan is a direct result of consultation with residents, businesses and other stakeholders. It contains policies that reflect the aspirations of those who live and work in Rendlesham through the designation of the ‘District Centre,' as well as polices that will protect the Village Green, plan sustainable housing and economic growth, address the deficiency in allotments and address traffic issues.'
He continued ‘Following a successful referendum the Neighbourhood Plan policies will receive equal weight as those contained in the Suffolk Coastal Core Strategy and be used to determine future planning applications in Rendlesham.'
Kay Nash, Parish Council Chairman, said ‘We are very proud of what we have achieved and embrace the vision of the Neighbourhood Plan. For the people of Rendlesham to have a truly active part in planning the future of their village, the Neighbourhood Plan is a unique and empowering tool.'
The Rendlesham Neighbourhood Plan first went to consultation in January 2014. The Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report (SASR) outlined the basis for the Neighbourhood Plan and had been written alongside planning policy documents to ensure that the principles of sustainable development were incorporated in all stages of the Neighbourhood Plan preparation. The purpose of the SASR consultation was to ensure that Rendlesham Parish Council were including the correct and most up to date information in their Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and to seek feedback from statutory consultees on the SA framework ahead of the production of the draft SA. The SASR consultation commenced on 13 January 2014 and ran for 6 weeks, concluding 28 February 2014.
Rendlesham Parish Council celebrated being the first and only Parish in Suffolk to gain Front Runner Status. The Parish Council, with the help and support of Suffolk Coastal District Council, received confirmation in March 2012 that they were a 'Front Runner' to develop a Neighbourhood Plan. This was a huge acheivement for the village and Parish Council It enabled the village to have its say in ensuring the right development would happen in the rightplace with the right infrastructure. The Parish Council led the way in Suffolk by being the first in the County to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan enabling the village to become a sustainable community with the services in place to meet their needs.
The Parish worked closely with Suffolk Coastal District Council on the 'Front Runner' bid and it was a fantastic acheivement to be one of first Parish Councils in the country to embark on this exciting project ahead of the introduction of the Localism Act in April 2012.
Photo: H Heelis. From left: Cllr Ray Herring (SCDC), Cllr Colin Hay (Chairman, Rendlesham Parish Council) and Rendlesham Parish Councillor, Kay Nash.
The Parish Council compiled a list of community assets consulting on what residents valued in Rendlesham - buildings, open space, features, foothpaths, transport, services (doctors, dentists etc) or anything else - and as a result of public consultation, the Parish Council identified the Sports Centre and Angel Theatre buildings as assets of community value. The Parish Council applied for these buildings to be listed as Community Assets under the Localism Act 2011, and Community Asset status was granted for these buildings in January 2013.
The 'BIG EVENT' in March 2013 collated all the feedback as evidence of need to shape the questions for the Neighbourhood Plan Questionnaires.
One of the problems facing young people, families and even older members of our community was finding somewhere to live locally which they could afford and which was appropriate to their needs. Property prices in the village meant that getting a foothold on the property ladder was still out of reach for some local people and the supply of affordable rented properties meant that some local people may have been forced to move away from family and friends.
What did we mean by ‘affordable'?
Affordable housing was thought of as housing held by a reputable housing association in perpetuity for local people. It can be provided in two ways; rented and shared equity. Rented properties are properties with a rent below the private market rent. Shared equity housing is housing that enables first time buyers to buy up to 80% of a home and when ready to move on, sell the 80% back to the housing association to raise the funds necessary for their next home and, because 20% is always retained by the housing association the homes always remain for local peopl
So that we could understand what our local housing needs were, the Parish Council worked with the independent charity Suffolk ACRE, to undertake a Housing Needs Survey. This survey was to identify whether there was a need for local housing for local people and what type of housing was needed, if any at all. All homes are built to a very high standard incorporating renewable energy and features that make easy adaption for the elderly and disabled.
This survey was an integral part of the Neighbourhood Plan ~ aiming to find out if there was a need for affordable housing, what that need was, and how the village could plan for that need.