West Suffolk Local Plan – important updates


This is to let you all know that there are some adjustments to the West Suffolk Local Plan timetable. This is so the next stage of the draft can include changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which are part of a national policy consultation announced by Government shortly before Christmas.

Any changes to the NPPF are expected to be published in the spring and will inform the preparation of local plans. This means that rather than consulting on the submission draft in the spring, West Suffolk Council will consult in the latter half of the year.

The alternative to this would risk delays and increased costs further down the line with the council effectively having to add in the NPPF changes and then reconsult.

The Government’s consultation on the NPPF includes suggested transitional arrangements for those authorities that are preparing local plans. This encourages local authorities to continue preparing local plans and for them to be submitted to the Inspectorate by the 25 June 2025 at the latest.

This is a small adjustment; the council is over halfway through the process therefore the key decisions and policy direction will not be reviewed.  The adjustment is to ensure that the council is preparing a Plan in accordance with national policy.  

Building site submissions

There has been good progress with the West Suffolk Local Plan in reviewing the submissions submitted from the preferred options consultation, looking at evidence, and in the ongoing conversations with infrastructure providers and stakeholders. This has informed our ongoing work in the drafting of planning policies and the selection of sites for housing and employment. All of this has been in readiness for consulting on the submission draft plan, the final stage before it is sent to the planning inspectorate.

Given the significant progress that the council has already made with the evidence base already submitted, West Suffolk Council will not be inviting the submission of any further sites at this stage.

Five Year Housing Land Supply (5YHLS) and Delivery

West Suffolk Council have updated the Five-Year land supply report and have confirmed that they maintain a 5.3-year land supply. That in turn means that the current local plans in West Suffolk legally remain up-to-date for when determining planning applications.

Why is this so important? A Five-Year Land Supply Report is prepared and published every year.  An authority needs to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply when dealing with planning applications and appeals in order for the policies in its local plan relating to housing to be considered up to date.  

If it doesn’t there are penalties placed on a local authority. For a Council, it would mean that its current local plan is no longer considered up to date and so there would be a presumption in favour of sustainable development. This would mean the risk of speculative development where applications are put forward that neither our communities nor the council want, but we are unable to refuse.

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