New homes could 'engulf' villages

PROPOSALS for thousands of new homes could “engulf” some of the county's finest villages, it was warned last night.

Laurence Cawley

PROPOSALS for thousands of new homes could “engulf” some of the county's finest villages, it was warned last night.

As part of the Government's plans for the east of England, 8,000 properties are planned for St Edmundsbury by 2031.

The borough council want 40% of new homes built in Bury St Edmunds, 40% in Haverhill and the remaining 20% in villages.

Under the proposals, which are currently out for consultation, Barrow, Clare, Ixworth, Kedington, Risby, Stanton and Wickhambrook would all become “key service centres”- which means they could get up to 70 new homes each.

But while most of those villages have welcomed the draft plan, it is the council's suggestion of new housing along the Westley/Horringer Edge, Moreton Hall East and in the Fornham All Saints area which last night triggered outrage.

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Bob Cockle and Mark Ereira, St Olave's ward councillors, said the proposals would “engulf Westley”, create a “sprawling unsustainable area” and could put the “distinct identity” of Fornham St Martin at risk.

In a joint statement to the council they said: “We are totally opposed to option three, the Westley/Horringer edge.

“This would be highly destructive and engulf the village of Westley, the Horringer edge and area around Westley Bottom about the Ickworth Estate and National Trust land.

“There is not the local infrastructure to cope with massive housing or other mixed use development, and it is not possible to envisage how this could be tackled without reckless and unnecessary destruction of the local habitat and countryside.”

They added that “intolerable burdens” would be placed on the residents of the nearby Westley village, Horringer and the two Westley and Horringer Court estates.

“It is of paramount importance that the village of Fornham All Saints retains a distinct identity and is not absorbed into the new development,” they continued. “We are opposed to any more development to the east of Bury St Edmunds, and believe that further massive development would be most detrimental to local villages and create too much of a sprawling unsustainable urban area.”

Terry Clements, cabinet member responsible for planning and transport, said 90% of villages involved in the consultation process had so far welcomed the council's draft growth plans.

He said he was aware some people in Westley were not happy with the current proposals and vowed to alleviate some of their concerns.

“We will work with them and talk about things,” he said. “They are concerned about major growth in their area. We need to find out what people actually feel - it is a sounding out thing at the moment.”

Consultation on the proposals ends on January 5.

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