Villagers fear being swamped by homes

By Liz HearnshawTHE quality of life for residents will be changed forever if a controversial plan to build 800 homes on their doorstep is approved, it has been claimed.

By Liz Hearnshaw

THE quality of life for residents will be changed forever if a controversial plan to build 800 homes on their doorstep is approved, it has been claimed.

The proposal, which would see the current green space between the village of Westley and nearby Bury St Edmunds virtually filled with new housing, was unveiled to residents on Saturday.

Forming part of St Edmundsbury Borough Council's Local Plan – a blueprint of how the area should develop in the years leading to 2016 – the proposal represents one of the largest developments in west Suffolk's history.

It showed where almost 10,000 homes would be built to accommodate a growing population, but has already sparked controversy among residents, who fear their homes might soon be engulfed by the planned expansion of Bury St Edmunds.

But homeowners on the Westley Estate, who neighbour the site earmarked for new development, urged council officials to also consider their quality of life before adopting the Local Plan next year.

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Sandra Footer, who lives in Oliver Road, said: "We bought our house because of it had views of open fields, but this development will be right in our back garden.

"We would like some green space between our back garden and all this development, as it was the existing fields which attracted us to the area in the first place.

"We realise new houses have to be built to allow younger people the chance to get onto the property ladder, but the privacy and wishes of the people who already live on the Westley Estate should be taken into consideration.

"It is not fair to put development right next to Oliver Road. The value of our property will drop straightaway if houses are built right up to our back fence and the estate will be spoilt."

David Spencer, local plans officer with the council, said the consultation process would continue into next year, with building work scheduled to begin in 2008.

"As a council, we are listening to local people so we can go back to the developers armed with their views," he added.

"We plan to report back to councillors on the public's opinions in June and will then produce a revised plan which takes on board people's comments.

"We were anticipating there would be a lot of concern about these 800 houses and there has been some apprehension from both people in Westley village and on the estate.

"But this plan is only a first draft and nothing is set in stone. If people want to object, it is up to them to do it now.

"If this site survives this consultation, we want to come back and work with both communities, in the village and on the estate, gathering their opinions on the more detailed plans. We want local people to have a genuine input into how the site is developed."

Other major aspects of the plan include building 1,180 new homes on a greenfield site to the north-west of Haverhill and doubling the size of the Suffolk Business Park, on Moreton Hall, in Bury St Edmunds.

Comments regarding the proposals can be made via the borough council's website at until March 10.

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