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Bury St Edmunds: Community groups tell planning inspector of their concerns over development on Leg of Mutton land

PUBLISHED: 13:38 31 January 2014 | UPDATED: 13:38 31 January 2014

Land known as the Leg of Mutton in Bury St Edmunds which community groups want to see protected from development.

Land known as the Leg of Mutton in Bury St Edmunds which community groups want to see protected from development.

Martin Lightfoot

It is now down to a planning inspector to decide the scope of development - if any at all - on green space with views of the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds which community groups want to be protected.

The piece of agricultural land known as the Leg of Mutton, which is west of Rougham Road in Bury, was the subject of discussion for more than an hour yesterday at a public inquiry into St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Vision 2031 documents.

The documents form the blueprint for future growth in the area, with Bury expected to take about 6,000 new homes.

The Bury Water Meadows Group wants the 15-hectare piece of land to be an area of open public space but David Barker, who was representing Pigeon Investment Management, said there was the opportunity for more formal recreational facilities there, such as sports pitches.

When Mr Barker was asked by independent planning inspector Roger Clews whether he wanted hotel or leisure and fitness use to be considered for the site he said the policy should be “sufficiently flexible” for a range of uses there.

Andrew Hinchley, of the Bury Water Meadows Group, said: “Our group is sufficiently convinced there is a compelling argument to preserve this land from an East Anglian perspective.”

He added they had recently applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund as they believed the land was “a major heritage issue for the whole of East Anglia,” adding the group hoped to purchase the space.

Alan Jary, of the Bury Society, said the land could effectively be a “garden” for the townspeople.

Vision says the Leg of Mutton - which is currently only publicly accessible by using a bridleway - “is allocated for outdoor recreational use and associated facilities,” with the area taken for buildings and hard landscaping to be kept to “the minimum required to make open space recreational uses viable”. Hotel use falls outside of what the policy currently says.

Ian Poole, from the borough council, said a golf course or football pitch could potentially be a use for the site, but added floodlights would have a detrimental impact on the setting of the town centre conservation area which would not tie in with another part of the policy.

The Vision inquiry continues.

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