Residents fight bus depot plan

RESIDENTS of a Suffolk market town are fighting the proposed development of a bus depot near to a nature reserve, saying it will endanger wildlife, green spaces and road safety.

RESIDENTS of a Suffolk market town are fighting the proposed development of a bus depot near to a nature reserve, saying it will endanger wildlife, green spaces and road safety.

The North East Hadleigh Residents' Association is appealing to people to write letters to Babergh District Council objecting to the plans put forward by coach company Beestons.

The move comes after the council received a planning application to change Cobbold's Farm, on the A1071 Ipswich Road, Hadleigh, from an agricultural use.

But the chairman of the business, Phil Munson, has defended the plans for the site, and said he was "very surprised" at the level of opposition it has provoked.

The site is opposite the RSPB Wolves Wood nature reserve and the residents' association is concerned about the impact of an estimated 50 coach movements, 40 car movements, two light goods vehicle and two heavy goods vehicle movements per day.

The planning application also has no restrictions on the hours the depot, which will include a workshop, car parking and an internal access road, can be used.

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Trevor Sheldrick, chairman of the association, said: "On a simple level we do not think it's a good place to be conducting this sort of business. One of the key assets of the area is the ancient woodland; not just Wolves Wood but also the 99 acre Ramsey Wood.

"They say they will plant trees and provide screening but how do you screen that many buses? They are going to have lights from the buses and security lamps, as they have had a history of vandalism.

"That's without the obvious things like noise. The permission is for a workshop, so that repairs can be carried out, and there will be paint spray and that sort of thing. We just generally think it is not a good idea to put that next to a nature reserve.

"They are going to build an access road as they do not want coaches to go through the narrow gateway. These coaches are going to access the A1071, which in turn has a bad history of accidents."

He said it is a fast stretch of the road where drivers overtake and, if the plans for the site were approved, people would suddenly be confronted by buses slowing and turning.

The residents' association is also concerned that a council go-ahead for the depot could spell more development and expansion of Hadleigh in the fields between the town and the farm.

Mr Sheldrick said this could cause the town knock-on problems as it grows too fast.

"Once the farm is established as an industrial site it then leads planners looking at the map to view the fields in between as infill," he said.

Mr Munson hit back at the claims, saying none of the Beestons sites had suffered with vandalism and the company was moving to Cobbold's Farm because it had simply outgrown the current site at Long Bessels.

He said: "We would be putting a new road in as required, which would eliminate any accident problems.

"We will do whatever the council requires but we will also work with the RSPB to decide the screening and planting of trees and hedges.

He added: "There won't be any painting - there will only be diesel up there - and I can't see that will affect the wildlife at all."

The planning application will be considered at a meeting in October and people have been advised to send any representations to the council as soon as possible.

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