Doubts over £30m bypass in Suffolk

SERIOUS new doubts have emerged over the future of a long-awaited £30m bypass in Suffolk after a Government official warned it could be jeopardised by concerns in Essex.

SERIOUS new doubts have emerged over the future of a long-awaited £30m bypass in Suffolk after a Government official warned it could be jeopardised by concerns in Essex.

Department for Transport representative Emma Cliffe has warned councillors in Sudbury that the town's proposed western bypass will not get Government approval unless it is supported by Essex County Council and Braintree District Council.

Both Essex authorities have already raised concerns over the scheme.

People in Sudbury - who have been campaigning for a new bypass to relieve the town's traffic-choked streets since the early 1970s - were jubilant earlier this year when Suffolk County Council approved a £30m road improvement package


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The multi-million pound scheme included a western bypass designed to draw traffic away from Sudbury's historic core.

The proposed 3.2km route would run from the bottom of the A134 Melford bypass, before spanning the western side of the town and linking up with the A131 at the top of Ballingdon Hill, which leads on to Halstead and Braintree.

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Suffolk County Council hopes to get the scheme approved by the Government and to start work in the next period of the Local Transport Plan between 2006 and 2011.

But the project has hit an obstacle because a small section of the road would cross the county boundary into Essex on land which comes under the authority of Braintree District Council.

Both Braintree District and Essex County Council have raised serious concerns over the bypass, doubting its effectiveness and raising concerns over damage it could cause to the natural environment in Essex.

People in Sudbury now fear the bypass may never go ahead after the stark warning from the Government representative.

During a special meeting at Sudbury Town Hall Ms Cliffe told representatives from Suffolk county, Babergh district and Sudbury town councils that the scheme will fail if not supported in Essex.

Sudbury town clerk Sue Brotherwood said: “We are having problems getting support from Essex at the moment and we need to get around the table with them to try and overcome the problems.”

Sudbury mayor John Sayers added: “If the scheme fails it would be a disaster for Sudbury, we already have serious traffic problems and they will only get worse if the 700 new homes in the Chilton area being proposed in the local plan get the go ahead.”

Despite the concerns in Sudbury, council officials in Essex say they remain unconvinced by the need for a bypass.

They feel there has not been sufficient analysis into the effects the road would have on the environment and fear the route could generate extra traffic through Essex.

In a letter to Suffolk County Council, Essex County Council cabinet member Ron Williams said: “It does not appear realistic or sustainable to divert sufficient traffic onto a western bypass to justify the serious adverse impact on items of environmental importance. The justification for a bypass appears weak since the traffic information shows clearly that the problem for the town is created by traffic that has an origin or destination in Sudbury.”

Nobody from Braintree District Council was available to comment.

Despite the concerns in Sudbury, county strategic policy manager Peter Grimm says the situation remains positive.

“I understand the concerns expressed by the council members in Sudbury, but we will continue to keep promoting the road and will continue to work with local people, the Department for Transport and the authorities in Essex.

“We remain committed to building the scheme in the next period of the Local Transport Plan between 2006 and 2011.”

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