To marked our 90th anniversary we have launched a decade-long manifesto that will help direct our activities – and those of others – to ensure the longer-term future of the county’s iconic landscapes, towns and villages.
Called A Manifesto for Suffolk 2019- 2029, the document was launched on 27 June at a packed Suffolk Preservation Society reception at Great Bevills, Bures hosted by our president Geoffrey Probert.
The manifesto makes it clear that the Society, which was founded in 1929, is not against change in itself – far from it. But the Society does believe that Suffolk faces an unprecedented coalition of forces that, unless directed and moderated by local communities, will result in a county that is no longer the one its people love and want to live in, nor the one tourists have traditionally come to see.
Society director Fiona Cairns explained: “Fundamentally, the key issue is the explosion of mass housing to accommodate population growth and the government’s housing target numbers.
“The population of the county has grown rapidly in recent years to nearly 760,000 and is projected to reach over 820,000 by 2039. We believe that all future housing growth must be sustainable and take into account the impact on the environment, on services and on the road network, if it is to create successful places for people to live and work.”
Andrew Fane, the Society’s chairman, said: “Good growth is something to be embraced along with the opportunities that it presents. However, at the Society we are focussed upon combatting the tide of monotonous and insipid housing that is all too often offered up by the big housebuilders; housing that fails to respond to local distinctiveness and the cherished local scenes that make our county so special.”
The Society’s manifesto also highlights the particular challenges for Suffolk from the cumulative effect of new energy projects along the east of the county. Suffolk is host to a number of current and future nationally important energy infrastructure projects in the renewables and nuclear sectors. The Society is concerned that Suffolk is expected to shoulder such projects with insufficient consideration given to their environmental and community costs.
But the Society’s manifesto is not a defeatist response to these massive challenges.
Geoffrey Probert explained: “The worst excesses can be avoided if we and the local communities fight to get the kind of new builds we all want, so that we actually enhance Suffolk’s villages, towns and landscapes for decades to come.”
“We are investing more of our expert resources in supporting and advising not only local campaigners, councillors, MPs, architects and, yes, whenever they wish, developers as well.
“The growth of Neighbourhood Plans in Suffolk is another reason to be cheerful – as long as the number continues to grow. The latest National Planning Policy Framework gives even greater weight to these plans than previously, especially where borough and district councils have failed to identify a five year housing land supply.
“In short, the battle for Suffolk is about to intensify and our manifesto shows how it can be won – for the benefit of all of us and of generations to come.”