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Bury St Edmunds: Residents celebrate as developer’s appeal is turned down

PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 February 2014

Campaigning residents have claimed another victory in their fight to protect a piece of woodland from development after a developer was once again denied permission to build.

A planning inspector last week rejected an appeal from Hampshire-based developer Keith Pritchard over plans to build a new £1.5million house in West Road, Bury St Edmunds.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council originally rejected the plans last year, with the planning inspector upholding the council’s concerns over the potential impact on the wider area.

It is the latest reprieve for the woodland, which also survived an application and subsequent appeal from Anglian Water to build 12 homes there.

Campaigner Igor Wowk said: “Hopefully now we can all rest easily without the fear of our domestic lives being disrupted.

“We now hope that the developer will desist in his attempt to develop the land for housing or commercial use and start to manage it properly, or release it to somebody who will.

“Our experience from all this is that the system is heavily weighted in favour of the developers, and the town appears to be coming increasingly blighted with proposed ‘back-land’ development.”

Local councillor Robert Everitt praised the group’s efforts, saying: “The community gathered together and fought off the developer. It just shows what can be done.

“It would be a brave man to say that will be the last time someone tries to speculatively build on that site, though.”

The plans for West Road involved the demolition of an existing bungalow and the removal of around one third of the woodland – about 63 trees.

Such is the commitment from campaigners to preserve the site that they even bid £15,000 to buy it when Anglian Water put it up for sale, but were outbid by Mr Pritchard. The agent behind Mr Pricthard’s original application was unavailable for comment.

Mr Wowk said: “This is now the second appeal on development of this land presided over by the national planning inspectorate, no doubt at great cost to the taxpayer, and we are hoping it will be the last.”

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