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Elmswell: Hope money from new homes at former bacon factory will go towards relief road which could connect to A14

PUBLISHED: 09:39 18 July 2014 | UPDATED: 09:39 18 July 2014

An overhead view of Elmswell

An overhead view of Elmswell

Villagers could be a step closer to getting a bypass connecting to the A14 to ease congestion at a busy rail crossing.

Thousands of people in Elmswell, near Bury St Edmunds, want a relief road to take traffic away from the village centre, according to councillors.

So when outline proposals for up to 190 homes at a former bacon factory in St Edmunds Drive were put forward, the parish council made its position clear.

Peter Dow, parish clerk, spoke at a Mid Suffolk District Council planning meeting over the proposals on Wednesday.

He said: “There’s an overwhelming public view that future development north of the railway must consider a relief road.

“Traffic is increasing, Highways says that the proposal is acceptable in terms of traffic coming through the village but I do not think Elmswell thinks that for a moment.”

Between £1m and £1.3m in developer’s fees was to be set aside for a new pedestrian rail crossing to replace the current Hawk End one in the initial homes proposals presented.

But the meeting heard how some of the money could instead be funnelled towards the relief road project which could cost between £2.2m and £4.4m, according to the parish council.

Jane Storey, district councillor for the village, said: “There should be a contribution from this to get the relief road built. We should suggest that there is a mixed use on the site; let’s not give up on getting more industry in Elmswell. I know that the majority of residents feel that the proposals are not acceptable.”

Richard Larbi, a viability officer at Mid Suffolk, said including areas for business on the site was “not feasible” and would cause the developer, Harrow Estates, to lose money.

Sarah Mansel, another district councillor for the village, said: “I think most of the residents of Elmswell accept that development will happen on this site. It has been empty for some time but obviously they would like to see benefits to the community.”

Councillors unanimously approved revised plans which call for an agreement to be made to improve safety at the existing Hawk End railway crossing but at reduced costs as a pedestrian bridge is not to be favoured. The remaining money from the project will be split: 50% for the relief road project and 50% for affordable housing.

This condition is subject to Elmswell Parish Council establishing a neighbourhood plan within two years. This is an important document which would give villagers a greater say in what gets built.

Once produced the plan would mean residents could then vote on whether they want a relief road built subject to further funding.

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