Sudbury: Battle for long-awaited bypass for Suffolk’s most polluted street steps up a gear

Council leaders meet on Sudbury's Ballingdon Hill to discuss the need for a western bypass Left to r

Council leaders meet on Sudbury's Ballingdon Hill to discuss the need for a western bypass Left to right: County council leader Mark Bee, South Suffolk Conservative candidate James Cartlidge and cabinet member for roads, Graham Newman. - Credit: Archant

Renewed calls for a long-awaited bypass to solve Sudbury’s traffic woes are being backed by top county officials, who visited the town this week and witnessed life on one of Suffolk’s most polluted streets.

Council leader Mark Bee described the weight of traffic entering the town via Cross Street as “an eye opener”.

Along with cabinet member for roads, Graham Newman, and local councillors, he is supporting the Keep Sudbury Moving campaign launched by south Suffolk conservative candidate James Cartlidge earlier this month.

They are planning a concerted effort to persuade the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to fund a western bypass for Sudbury, which they see as vital if the area is to accommodate more than 1,500 planned new homes and facilitate the necessary economic growth.

Mr Bee said: “There are issues in Sudbury that need to be resolved. Funding has already been allocated through the LEP to projects in Bury St Edmunds and Beccles, and Sudbury has many of the same problems.

“The bypass is in the LEP’s strategic economic plan but we must work together to get it moved up the list of priorities.

“We need to pull together the report that can help build the case from the highways and economic development point of view.”

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The county has committed to carrying out traffic surveys on Cross Street, which is the main A131 strategic lorry route from Essex.

Mr Newman is also meeting with Essex County Council on September 30 to review traffic issues that are common to both counties.

He said: “Sudbury already has a growing economy and is thriving but we need to be able to build on that. New housing and new employment is what makes the case strong.

“Because of Sudbury’s proximity to Stansted, there is a significant economic opportunity there. But despite that, it’s like the infrastructure has all been set 100 years ago and has not adapted - it needs the infrastructure to make it more attractive.

“The volume of large vehicles and the subsequent air quality management issue also needs to be looked into – it’s a huge issue and it’s not good for people living in the town.”

County councillor Peter Beer said he was pleased that county officials had witnessed the problems Sudbury councillors had been battling for decades. He said: “Employers who want to set up a business in Sudbury have to go through the town and sit at the lights on Ballingdon Hill for about 20 minutes so we have lost companies because they don’t want to have to come through Sudbury to get to the industrial area.

“People in Sudbury had thought that the county wasn’t interested. Having Mark and Graham here this morning will send the message that the county is serious about this.”

Mr Cartlidge added: “We know the LEP will support us if we make the right case and the numbers stack up.

“We needed the county council to come along and give their support and that’s what they are doing today. For the first time in many years, there’s a good chance of the bypass actually happening.”