Villager's fury at 2,000 home bid

FURIOUS residents have set up campaign group to save their picturesque village from a 2,000 home development they say would turn their community into a suburb of one of Suffolk's biggest towns.

Laurence Cawley

FURIOUS residents have set up campaign group to save their picturesque village from a 2,000 home development they say would turn their community into a suburb of one of Suffolk's biggest towns.

And villagers in Westley, near Bury St Edmunds, claim the plans were not disclosed in a major consultation over thousands of new houses which will be built across west Suffolk over the next few years.

They say the proposals for land between Westley and the town would spell the end of the village as a rural community and effectively merge it with Bury.


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Last night residents said a “principles plan” to develop the site was not mentioned in the consultation bundle - and they demanded answers about why they were kept in the dark over the scheme, submitted by a planning firm and clearly demarcating a large stretch of land between the village and Bury for development.

Jim Sweetman, a Westley resident and member of the Save the Village campaign, said: “Villagers are up in arms about this - the one site we are most concerned about is the one south of Newmarket Road between Westley and Bury. Although the site is in the consultation, the council (St Edmundsbury) has not mentioned they have had an application for housing which they've been sitting on since May.

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“It looks like it is for about 2,000 new homes and a bit of industrial development. I think it is very odd. The council has kept it quiet despite claiming to be open and transparent. Had that been mentioned there would have been a lot more opposition.”

He told how when the campaign group asked why the planning application was not mentioned in the consultation, members were told it was too large to fit in the consultation bundle.

Mr Sweetman added that only developers and landowners had been able to put forward possible development sites for consideration.

But St Edmundsbury cabinet member for planning, Terry Clements, defended the consultation process saying the fact Westley was flagged up as a possible development plot meant the council was being open and transparent about its possible future.

He denied the council was trying to hide anything: “What we have done is say these are pieces of land we are looking at, and that we are aware other people have an interest in developing these areas. We have just had the fullest consultation we have ever done.

“We have not moved forward on anything, we are just looking forward to 2021. We have put forward everything that we are aware of. Things have been put forward and we have asked developers and landowners about what sites they are thinking of developing.

“We wanted to raise awareness of those sites and we are looking at St Edmundsbury as a whole and at the end of the day there's going to be a lot of change.”

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