Highways bosses urged to learn from ‘nightmare’ of Woods Lane closure

Abi Lea from Happy Horse Saddlery is thrilled that Woods Lane in Melton is now open. Picture: SARAH

Abi Lea from Happy Horse Saddlery is thrilled that Woods Lane in Melton is now open. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The long-awaited reopening of a busy Suffolk road, whose closure provoked months of opposition, has been met with relief - and calls for lessons to be learned.

Woods Lane in Melton reopened this morning after Bloor Homes completed the work connected to its Longwood Fields housing development a month ahead of schedule.

The closure, which lasted 12 weeks either side of Christmas, had been fiercely opposed in Melton, Woodbridge and the Sutton peninsula, as well by the many motorists whose journeys were affected by A12 delays.

Following a heated public meeting organised by Suffolk County Council (SCC) last year, Bloor agreed to consult on longer working hours, which was agreed for phase two and enabled work to be completed ahead of schedule.

Abi Lea, owner of the Happy Horse Saddlery in Melton, said she was “relieved” the closure had ended, claiming it had cost her business around £3,000 a month.

“I’m thrilled it has finally reopened but there’s still a long road to recovery for my business,” she added. “The closure should never have happened in the first place – why should local people and businesses have had to suffer for houses that no one wanted?”

Ms Lea said she hoped SCC would take a firmer stance with developers to minimise the disruption of road closures.

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Melton resident Allan Cole, who has criticised the closure, also called for lessons to be learned.

“I’m very grateful the road has finally reopened but the whole business should have been handled differently,” he added.

“The last few months have been a living nightmare, the traffic noise has been horrendous and there’s been very little enforcement. We’ve got to learn from this because there are going to be more construction projects in Melton and Woodbridge and we can’t just have a major A road closed at the drop of the hat without exploring other options.”

Jane Storey, SCC’s cabinet member for highways also acknowledged the “burden” and “considerable stress” caused by the closure. However she added that SCC did everything it could to bring the closure to an end as quickly as possible.

“I very much hope that people can now get back to their normal routines and use Woods Lane as they did before,” she added.

Bloor said it was aware of the disruption and apologised for the inconvenience caused.

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