Best option for Sudbury ‘not yet known’ says councillor amid Water Meadows bypass row

Campaigners from the Save Sudbury Water Meadows group Picture: JASON NOBLE

Campaigners from the Save Sudbury Water Meadows group Picture: JASON NOBLE - Credit: Archant

Assessment work costing £600,000 will determine the best option for Sudbury’s traffic problems, Suffolk highways chiefs have said after a petition was submitted against a potential bypass.

Cattle at Sudbury water meadows Picture: ANGIE JONES

Cattle at Sudbury water meadows Picture: ANGIE JONES - Credit: Archant

The Save Sudbury Water Meadows group presented a petition of 6,651 signatures against a potential bypass from Melford Road, citing environmental concerns.

Campaigners say the plans will cut off a large part of Sudbury from the countryside and impact on a wildlife corridor, as well as ruin the landscapes which influenced Thomas Gainsborough in his work.

Karen Franklin from the campaign group said: “It’s used constantly by the people of Sudbury, dog walkers, cyclists.

“People come in not just from Sudbury but all over and we should be promoting that for our tourist industry rather than destroying that with a bypass.”

The group has also raised questions as to how much a bypass would ease the traffic issues in Sudbury.

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Addressing this afternoon’s Suffolk County Council meeting, Ms Franklin added: “People are afraid we might be on the brink of losing something special to Suffolk forever.”

Other concerns raised were the impact on the river banks and the potential of increased flooding from the river.

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Funding of £600,000 from retained business rates was confirmed to have been awarded to environmental assessment firm WSP to analyse the possible routes and the impacts of them.

Mary Evans, cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs said that it was not clear what the best option for Sudbury was, but said the traffic situation meant a solution was needed.

“At the heart of this medieval town we are struggling to squeeze through 21st Century traffic.

“We cannot consign the people of Sudbury to live in some 20th Century time warp,” she said.

Ms Evans highlighted the plans published in the town’s vision for prosperity and the Chilton Woods development as part of the changes Sudbury is facing.

She added: “The Water Meadows are indeed iconic and whatever solution we come up with has to protect the residents of Sudbury.

“There will be a public consultation in the autumn – at this stage we don’t know what the best option will be which is why we are carrying out this work.”

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