Is promised Bury St Edmunds relief road in jeopardy?

Westley Road, Bury St Edmunds Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Westley Road, Bury St Edmunds Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Archant

An “essential” road to ease traffic when a new Bury St Edmunds development is built could be jeopardised due to a wrangle over land.

This map shows the land allocated for development west of Bury St Edmunds and where the relief road

This map shows the land allocated for development west of Bury St Edmunds and where the relief road should go. It is from the public Vision 2031 document Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL - Credit: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

A full planning application has been submitted by developer Pigeon for nearly 500 homes to the west of Bury St Edmunds, off Newmarket Road, and close to the village of Westley.

This development forms part of the adopted local plan, Vision 2031, which states the scheme should provide "traffic relief for Westley in the form of a relief road to the east of the village".

But the plans submitted by Pigeon only include "a part relief road" that would not connect with Westley Road - which is essential for the diversion of traffic - as the firm does not own all of the land. It says the full length will be delivered "when the land becomes available".

The chairman of Westley Parish Council, Chris Anderson, has expressed doubt over whether this "essential" road will ever be built.

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Michael Underwood owns the land necessary for the relief road, but his representative says what Pigeon has offered is "less than a fair price".

In a letter to the planning authority, David Lowe, who is representing Mr Underwood, said: "Michael Underwood would like to place it on record that he is willing to sell his land on normal commercial terms, as validated by the Lands Tribunal, to Pigeon - and agreed such terms with Bellway, the previous promotor of the application site, in 2005.

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"After an elapse of two years, during which Michael tried to initiate negotiations with Pigeon on a number of occasions, he did persuade Pigeon to attend a meeting recently. However, only a verbal offer well short of Land Tribunal guidelines was forthcoming."

Pigeon was approached for comment, but no-one was available.

A design and access statement submitted by the firm said: "The scheme provides the opportunity to deliver phase one of the relief road in full as part of this application on land in the applicants' ownership.

"Financial provision for phase two will be secured through a planning obligation, for use when the land becomes available, to enable the full length of the relief road to be delivered, thereby providing traffic relief to Westley."

Mr Anderson said: "The relief road isn't just essential for Westley village, but the whole borough. It will stop lorries going through the centre of town and will have a huge impact on our village as well."

He added: "We are not asking for a lot. We just want what was in black and white and rubber-stamped by St Edmundsbury many years ago."

He said the partial relief road would not provide any relief from traffic at all.

The Vision 2031 document says: "The construction of the relief road connecting Westley Road with Newmarket Road presents an opportunity to divert through traffic from Westley."

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