Thank you for contacting me about the proposed planning reforms.
I appreciate that many people in Suffolk quite rightly feel very strongly about this issue, as do I.
You will be aware of my recent success in stopping the Ipswich Northern Bypass (and the 50,000 new houses that would have come with it) and about my ongoing work to ensure that local residents, as well as our town and parish councils are properly consulted with regards to the proposed Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station development. During my time as your MP, I have consistently opposed inappropriate large scale housing developments and you can rely on me to continue to do so, and to speak out on these matters in Parliament.
I have been somewhat reassured by Ministers that the proposed reforms will emphasise a locally led and evidenced based plan-making process. In that respect, local consultation is important and I am currently concerned that these proposals may mean that older residents and those who do not routinely use the Internet could be excluded from the consultation process.
In Suffolk, we are very proud of our rural heritage. I entirely agree that it is vital for green spaces, parks and natural heritage to be protected. The importance of such beautiful spaces, especially in Suffolk, should not be underestimated. Our precious greenbelt countryside should not be used for mass housing development when there are plenty of brownfield sites that should and could be prioritised for development in the centre of Ipswich and other town centres.
However, it is clear that more affordable family homes are needed in Suffolk and across the country, but brownfield town centre development should be the priority not mass housing built on green fields without any of the proper infrastructure, local transport, health and educational facilities.
I am hopeful that these planning reforms will allow for the development of the affordable family homes that we need, but I shall pay close attention to the progress of these reforms and always work hard to protect and support Suffolk’s countryside from overdevelopment.
With regard to the debate on Planning Reform and House Building Targets, I am pleased that time has been secured in Parliament to debate these issues. This will be a useful opportunity to discuss the concerns that you and others have raised to ensure the right changes take place in our planning system. Unfortunately, I am unlikely to be able to attend the debate, but I can assure you I will be following this matter closely, and will take all appropriate steps necessary to protect Suffolk form inappropriate housing development.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me on this important matter.