Planning watchdog backs Westley homes

TOWN watchdogs have risked the wrath of a concerned neighbouring village after controversially backing plans for a 2,000-home development.

Dave Gooderham

TOWN watchdogs have risked the wrath of a concerned neighbouring village after controversially backing plans for a 2,000-home development.

Residents in Westley, near Bury St Edmunds, have claimed the massive homes plan would “submerge” their picturesque community and turn it into a suburb of one of Suffolk's biggest towns.

But while they have called for the draft plans to be scrapped, members of the Bury Society have backed the scheme claiming it has many advantages.

Sarah Green, society chairman, said “We just feel the east side of the town, with Moreton Hall, is really overloaded and there has been sufficient expansion there.

“We think the Westley site is favourable because it could have room to accommodate a new hospital or new school and it has good links with the railway and the A14.

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“It has much better opportunities for development. We obviously appreciate that this is going to be controversial for the people living in Westley and we stress that there needs to be a good masterplan produced to protect the village and the surrounding green areas. But the Bury Society must consider what is best for the town - this underpins everything that we consider.”

Amid accusations that the plans were not disclosed in a major consultation looking at thousands of new houses built across west Suffolk over the next few years, St Edmundsbury Borough Council claimed they were being open and transparent about its possible future.

But it has not stopped disgruntled residents from starting action group, Save the Village campaign.

While preferring not to comment on the society's recommendations, Westley resident John Foster said: “This is a nice, peaceful little village with beautiful views all around. But these proposals would mean Westley would be completely submerged into Bury. We have made our views known to the council.”

Speaking earlier this month, fellow resident Jim Sweetman said villagers were up in arms about the plans.

St Edmundsbury cabinet member for planning, Terry Clements, said: “We have not moved forward on anything, we are just looking forward to 2021.

“Things have been put forward and we have asked developers and landowners about what sites they are thinking of developing. We wanted to raise awareness of those sites and we are looking at St Edmundsbury as a whole and at the end of the day there's going to be a lot of change.”