Housing plans 'could ruin Bury'

THE character of one of Suffolk's best loved towns could be “destroyed” by plans to build 530 new homes each year in the St Edmundsbury borough, heritage groups have warned.

Laurence Cawley

THE character of one of Suffolk's best loved towns could be “destroyed” by plans to build 530 new homes each year in the St Edmundsbury borough, heritage groups have warned.

Tens of thousands of new homes are earmarked for the borough by 2031 and St Edmundsbury Borough Council has to draw up plans for where they will all go.

The favoured options at the present time include some housing in rural villages, regenerating Haverhill and some building in Bury St Edmunds though no firm decisions have yet been made.

But the council has now come under attack from both the Suffolk Preservation Society and the Bury Society which accused the authority of being “defensive” and warned the number of houses proposed could ruin Bury St Edmunds.

Bury Society chairman Simon Pott said: “One of the major challenges to be faced is the preponderance of housing to be added to towns on the basis that this is somehow sustainable, and that villages should have very little or no development.

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“This could have a dramatic effect on Bury and destroy a major part of what we are trying to preserve. We are all for rational, organic growth but Suffolk villages could and should be playing a part in this process and sharing the gain which can be achieved.”

Richard Ward, director of Suffolk Preservation Society, claimed the council had been “defensive” about the number of homes proposed for the borough and where they might go.

He said he feared the council would not listen to the views of the society on the matter.

“I am becoming quite concerned at the defensive comments coming back from the council over the concerns we have raised,” he said. “As part of the consultation process we have been asked to make comments, which we have done.

“We expect our comments to be taken seriously and be given full consideration, and we can't understand why the authority is coming out with such defensive remarks.

“At this stage I would have hoped for both societies to be able to enter into a positive dialogue with the council. However, these comments suggest that might be a waste of time. We hope the council can persuade us otherwise.”

Terry Clements, St Edmundsbury's cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said: “The council is a planning authority and our role is to work with the community to get the best possible solution for meeting the housing needs of coming years. The consultation process is one designed by and agreed by the community and it gives all parties the opportunity to contribute. All the evidence, including that submitted by these two active societies, will be carefully examined, and used to create a preferred option, which will be further consulted on in the autumn.”

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