Safety boost for Haughley Bends

MILLIONS of pounds could be spent on making Suffolk's notorious Haughley bends safer – if a major housing development near Stowmarket goes ahead.George Wimpey UK Ltd, who want to build between 750 and 1,000 homes in Onehouse, has revealed the safety work could come as part of the package.

MILLIONS of pounds could be spent on making Suffolk's notorious Haughley bends safer – if a major housing development near Stowmarket goes ahead.

George Wimpey UK Ltd, who want to build between 750 and 1,000 homes in Onehouse, has revealed the safety work could come as part of the package.

Tom Curtin, a spokesman for the company, said: "One of the major potential benefits of this scheme will be improving the A14 at the Haughley bends, which is certainly something which has been identified as needing work.

"This would be one of the key benefits but anything we did would obviously have to be done in conjunction with the authorities."

He added an additional exit could also be linked to the A14 to serve the development, but the exact location of this has not been determined.

A spokeswoman for Highways Agency said construction of a new route for the road is already planned to begin in 2006, but this could be reviewed when the houses are built.

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She said the route, designed to reduce casualties on the road, is likely to be announced in the spring of next year.

In the last six years, 20 people have been killed or seriously injured along the notorious stretch of road.

The plans for the new homes, between Chilton Fields and Onehouse, are currently in their early stages but they have already provoked concern in affected areas.

The biggest fear among villagers is that Onehouse would be swamped by the development, becoming a suburb of Stowmarket and losing its identity.

Mr Curtin moved to allay residents fears, saying a "strategic gap" would be imposed between the village and Stowmarket.

He said: "We've listened very carefully to the concerns expressed and are very keen to ensure there's a strategic gap to make sure the village retains its identity.

"We want to continue the consultation with the village and if anything does go ahead, we're keen it goes ahead in partnership with them. We're very keen to see what people think and for people to have their say."

Stephen Andrews, local plan manager of Mid Suffolk District Council, stressed nothing has been decided about whether the development will happen at this stage.

He said: "Until we publish our local plan this is still very much in the pot and that is likely to come out in June or July of next year."

Bruce Lacker, district councillor for Onehouse, called for the developers to come and tell them exactly what they want to do.

He also suggested "parcels" of the development may be more acceptable and added he would fight for the interests of the village.

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