Claims bypass will be needed to prevent Sudbury from becoming gridlocked by influx of new homeowners

Council leaders meet on Sudbury's Ballingdon Hill to discuss the need for a western bypass Left to r

Council leaders meet on Sudbury's Ballingdon Hill to discuss the need for a western bypass Left to right: County council leader Mark Bee, South Suffolk Conservative candidate James Cartlidge and cabinet member for roads, Graham Newman. - Credit: Archant

Fears that up to 2,000 new homes on the outskirts of Sudbury could cause the town’s traffic system to grind to a halt have led to renewed calls for a bypass.

A masterplan for the 1,250 home Chilton Woods scheme was revealed earlier this month and views are also being sought on a proposal to build a further 500 on land north east of Great Cornard, just a mile away.

Serious concerns have been raised about whether Sudbury can cope with the extra traffic the expansion would bring. Because Suffolk County Council owns most of the Chilton Woods site but is also responsible for highways, local councillors are pushing for an “independent” study of the surrounding roads.

When plans for the development were first submitted around a decade ago, a bypass was not deemed necessary but many feel it is now vital to get the infrastructure in place before new homes are built.

Babergh councillor Frank Lawrenson who covers the neighbouring parishes of Acton, Chilton, and Great Waldingfield said the possibility of Sudbury “becoming gridlocked” by a massive influx of people using the roads was a major concern.

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He said: “There’s a belief that the area will not cope with development on this scale without a bypass. But according to the current highways and consultants’ evidence, we don’t need it at this point.

“I don’t believe though that we can look at Chilton Woods in isolation - we need to consider the area as a whole.

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“It’s about credibility and evidence and the problem is that we don’t have any of that yet.

“People need reassurance and the only way that’s going to be achieved is if the county council commissions and pays for an independent study for the public giving answers in terms that people understand.”

Town councillor Nigel Bennett agreed that the county council should carry out a study to ascertain Sudbury’s “tipping point” in terms of traffic volume. He said: “If we have reached tipping point, it would be strange to go beyond that point. We need to know what the limit is.”

His colleague Lesley Ford Platt said the bypass was “long overdue” and one of the solutions to Sudbury’s needs. Meanwhile South Suffolk Conservative candidate James Cartlidge who recently launched a campaign to get the bypass proposal back on the agenda said he had been struck by the level of support for the idea from Sudbury people.

He said: “I have also found a general impression that if Chilton Woods is built that somehow a bypass will automatically follow.

“This is not the case as there is no planning requirement for a bypass to accompany Chilton Woods.

“However, as principal landowner at Chilton Woods, legal requirements aside, Suffolk County Council will have a moral duty to continue supporting the case for a bypass because of the even greater traffic pressure that would follow.

“Fortunately, we have had some very supportive signals from the leadership at county but we now need to start seeing that turn into a concrete business case with detailed traffic surveys that can take us forward.”

According to a spokesperson for Suffolk County Council, the capacity of existing roads and junctions is currently being tested through a transport assessment as part of the planning process.

He said: “This will identify what further road improvements may be required. Some areas have been identified that will require works to ensure roads can manage additional flow.

“The delivery of a western bypass is a much wider issue and is not required to accommodate the proposed development. However, it is a long term ambition of Babergh District Council and Suffolk County Council.”

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