Residents in both Halesworth and the village of Oulton, near Lowestoft, will be asked to decide whether neighbourhood plans for their areas should be used to determine future planning applications.

The Halesworth Neighbourhood Plan was prepared by Halesworth Town Council and contains a vision for the future of Halesworth and sets out clear planning policies for 2036.

The Oulton Neighbourhood Plan was developed by Oulton Parish Council and will be used by East Suffolk Council and the Broads Authority to help make planning decisions in the parish.

The plan also contains ‘community actions’, which will be used by Oulton Parish Council and the local community to enhance Oulton as a place to live.

Beccles & Bungay Journal: Councillor David Ritchie, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for Planning and Coastal ManagementCouncillor David Ritchie, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for Planning and Coastal Management (Image: East Suffolk Council)

Councillor David Ritchie, East Suffolk Council's cabinet member for planning and coastal management, said: “Neighbourhood planning gives residents the opportunity to get directly involved in shaping their local areas, determining the location of any new development and providing guidance for what new buildings or developments should look like.

"I would encourage those living in Halesworth and Oulton to get involved and take part in their respective referendum on 2 February.”

When finalised, the neighbourhood plans will act as guides to development in Halesworth and Oulton and will be required to be used by anyone making or deciding a planning application.

Both plans went through six-week public consultations last year and an independent examination.

The examinations found the plans meet all legal requirements, subject to some modifications.

As a result, the Broads Authority and East Suffolk Council have concluded that the neighbourhood plans should proceed to referendums.

The Neighbourhood Plan for Halesworth is for the time period of 2021 to 2036.

Its plan contains a view of the future of Halesworth and sets out clear planning policies to realise this goal, with the guidance of the development of the town.

It contains a vision to help create a sustainable and vibrant community and voluntary sector to improve and provide leisure, sport and cultural activities and other community services in the town.

The referendums will take place on Thursday, February 2.

Polling stations will be the Rifle Hall, Halesworth and the United Reform Church.

For further information about the Neighbourhood Plans, call 01394 444557, email or write to East Suffolk Council, Planning Policy and Delivery Team (Neighbourhood Plans), Riverside, 4 Canning Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 0EQ.