Concerns over whether proposals for key Tollgate junction in Bury St Edmunds will reduce traffic

The Tollgate junction in Bury St Edmunds is to receive improvements.

The Tollgate junction in Bury St Edmunds is to receive improvements. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Proposed changes to a key junction in an area of Bury St Edmunds which is set to grow by 1,000 homes have been described as “tinkering around with the margins”.

At a packed meeting a year ago residents of Bury’s Howard estate, which will be next to the new development, expressed their concerns over the lack of a “fully-thought out” plan to deal with increased congestion on the roads.

Countryside Properties - whose scheme will be one of five major new housing developments around the town - now has outline planning permission and has drawn up measures to mitigate traffic.

These include an extra lane at the busy Tollgate junction - next to the Tollgate pub - so there would be separate lanes for turning left, going straight ahead and turning right if heading north.

Borough and county councillor David Nettleton, who represents the area, feels the plans do not address the volume of cars coming down Fornham Road.

“What they are doing is tinkering around with the margins and not dealing with this. I don’t blame Countryside Properties for this - I blame the borough and county council.

“They have not got their act together. They are frightened to tackle it because it means saying to motorists ‘there are too many cars coming in, we need fewer cars coming in and those fewer cars need to be yours’.”

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While Countryside’s package of transport investment - valued at more than £5million - includes a campaign to get more people to walk and cycle, Mr Nettleton said “there’s no compulsion in this”.

He suggested the introduction of a congestion charge in the Fornham Road and Tollgate Lane area.

Ernie Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants (HEART), which organised the public meeting last year, said the developer was trying to address the congestion issue, but he still felt extremely concerned.

“With the best will in the world until people get out of their cars and onto bikes and buses we will get more and more cars,” he said.

Countryside has developed the highways proposals to reduce traffic at the Tollgate junction, and on Newmarket Road and Western Way, in consultation with Suffolk County Council and the Highways Agency.

The proposed junction improvements to Newmarket Road include a ‘ghost island’ so cars can manoeuvre around vehicles turning right into Oliver Road.

Mike Lambert, director of planning at Countryside Properties, said: “Countryside, via the planning approval for the residential-led mixed-use development on land to the north western edge of Bury Et Edmunds, is committed to a comprehensive road improvement package in the area.”

A link road to alleviate traffic in nearby Fornham All Saints is included in the package, and the developer will invest in a bus service through the new development and improved pedestrian and cycle links to the town centre.

Speaking at the public meeting last year, Graham Newman, cabinet member for roads at Suffolk County Council, said making alternatives to using private cars more attractive was party of the strategy to deal with congestion.

A spokesman for the county council said agreement had been reached with the developer over Section 106 funding for bus services, travel plans, highway improvements and contribution to wider highway improvements.

Borough and county councillor Trevor Beckwith did not believe measures to reduce car usage would do enough to make a difference.

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