Poll: Parking row erupts in Bury St Edmunds

The new Havebury Housing flats on Risbygate Street in Bury.

The new Havebury Housing flats on Risbygate Street in Bury. - Credit: Archant

A row over “unjust” planning decisions has broken out in Bury St Edmunds, after 29 homes, built in the town centre without a single parking spot, caused “havoc”.

The Havebury Housing Partnership development in Risbygate Street was completed in December last year, with an official opening due to take place on March 16.

It was granted planning permission by St Edmundsbury Borough Council in 2012, despite strong opposition from Risbygate Street traders and residents of adjoining Nelson Road.

In contrast, just a 10-minute walk away on Guildhall Street, recent applications by developers Barry and Matt Denny to turn the former Motorspares shop into three dwellings were denied because no parking was provided.

Paul Hopfensperger and his family have been trading from Risbygate Street for more than four decades. He said: “The decision to allow big-money Havebury permission but not the small family-run developer in Guildhall Street is an injustice. A development of that size – 29-homes, 70 people – to have not a single parking space, it is mad. People are now parking on the double yellow lines opposite my shop. When they do that you can’t turn to get in or out of our gate to access our parking. It is havoc.”

The parking problems were inadvertently highlighted by the public relations department for Havebury, which emailed an opening ceremony invite that directed guests to pay for parking at the nearby Arc car park instead.

This angered Mr Hopefensperger, who is also a St Edmundsbury borough councillor, and in a heated email exchange he accused his fellow councillor Paul Farmer, the member for Abbeygate, of failing to stand up for residents.

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Despite the debate, Mr Hopfensperger and Mr Farmer were both vocal in highlighting the parking issues back in 2012.

Mr Farmer said: “I responded at length to the original application for this development of flats, particularly objecting to the complete lack of parking facilities. The accusations (from Mr Hopfensperger) are absolutely and utterly false.”

The report from the council officer, made to the planning committee in 2012, shows that Mr Farmer represented both the views of residents in Nelson Road and the traders.

Barry and Matt Denny, of Lark Valley Projects, were denied permission for three town centre dwellings last year because they did not provide off-street parking.

Mr Hopfensperger has accused the borough council of having “double standards”.

When making planning decisions, the borough receives advice from Suffolk County Council over parking. A spokesman explained that a change in guidance since 2012 means that under current advice, Havebury would most likely not have been granted permission without providing off-street parking.

Philip Sullivan, director of operations at Havebury, said: “These town centre properties, in a sustainable location, met with local planning policy for car parking.

“The flats were advertised as being without parking. This was also explained to residents before they moved in and forms part of the letting agreement.”