Bid for 'new town' axed by council

THE idea of creating a major new settlement the size of a small town has been ruled out. St Edmundsbury Borough Council has to find space for more than 8,000 new homes in the next 13 years and one of the options was to put them all together in a brand new village.

Laurence Cawley

THE idea of creating a major new settlement the size of a small town has been ruled out.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has to find space for more than 8,000 new homes in the next 13 years and one of the options was to put them all together in a brand new village.

But last night the settlement idea appeared to have been shelved with council chiefs preferring a mix of small developments in a number of villages and expansion of the major towns of Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill.

One area mooted for the new settlement was between Bury and the small village of Westley. But villagers in Westley, which has just 69 homes, strongly objected to the suggestion fearing their quality of life would be left in tatters if a major development went up on their doorsteps.

David Martin, chairman of Westley Parish Council, said the housing issue had been ongoing since the 1980s. He said: “People here do not want a lot of housing nearby. We will be watching this issue with interest.”

Most Read

Although the idea of a single major new development, similar to the Moreton Hall scheme of the 1980s, has been shelved, Mr Martin said there would still be concerns about smaller scale developments - of hundreds rather than thousands of homes - nearby.

More modest developments, however, remain likely according to Terry Clements, the council's transport and planning cabinet member.

He said the single large settlement near the A14 had been sidelined because of its impact on the key Suffolk carriageway and the lack of public support for such a scheme.

He said: “It would have to be pretty close to the A14 so building it would cause major problems for the road. It could mean the A14 would have to be closed off. I thought that right from the start.”

The most likely option, he said, was a combination of measures, including expanding Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds and building additional homes in those villages which wanted to grow.

“Extra growth in Haverhill and Bury and the rural areas are most likely. There are some villages which would like to see a bit more growth and some who would like to see none. I think there is more scope in looking at villages than anything else.

“It is going to be interesting. And if there is a West Suffolk unitary authority we will have to work very closely with Forest Heath, Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils to see what they have planned.”

He said some villages might want extra housing to remain vibrant in the future.

A spokesman for the council said: “The latest figures published in the East of England Plan say that St Edmundsbury needs to build at least 10,000 homes between 2001 and 2021, that we have already built 1,960, leaving 8,040 still to build.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter