West Suffolk: Vision 2031 document judged ‘sound’, despite concerns over road infrastructure

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is consulting on Vision 2031

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is consulting on Vision 2031 - Credit: Archant

The approval of a document that sets out how parts of west Suffolk will grow over the next 20 years will leave Bury St Edmunds ‘buried under tarmac and concrete,’ it has been claimed.

The cabinet of Suffolk County Council (SCC) yesterday agreed with measures set out in St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s consultation on Vision 2031 and said the development blueprint was “sound.”

The plans include a new school, 900 homes between the Howard Estate and Fornham All Saints, 500 homes for Moreton Hall, 1,250 between Bury and Great Barton and 1,250 to the south-east of the town and 450 to the west of the town.

Introducing the report at a meeting in West Suffolk House, Richard Smith, cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said it was important to ensure that the region had effective strategies to develop the jobs and homes needed.

He added: “Some people don’t want to see any future growth in Bury St Edmunds, but such a stance is to bury one’s head in the sand.”

David Nettleton, of Tower, said he agreed that housing needs to be built but said people were concerned about how developments would impact on Bury’s roads. He added that people should be encouraged people to walk, cycle or buses for in town journeys.Mr Nettleton said: “We should be more ambitious - reduce car use in town.”

Trevor Beckwith, of Eastgate and Moreton Hall, told the meeting he believed not enough detail about traffic mitigation had been included.

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He added: “The level of development and the five strategic sites has been known since December 2010 but they say they cannot give details until detailed planning information is known. How are we able to predict the number of school places required but need more information for highways?”

Mr Beckwith said the applications for homes would be submitted piecemeal with “no regard for the cumulative impact” on infrastructure.

He added: “SCC has no solution to today’s highway problems and they most certainly don’t know how to mitigate for the future. We are told that measures will be introduced to change people’s travel habits but nobody will provide the anticipated numbers that will change. How can anything be modelled when there are no details?”

Mark Eriera, Tower, said the response to Vision 2031 by SCC smacked of “one Conservative council cuddling up to another” and said he did not believe growth is the only thing that matters. He added: “We need to consider the implications of what we are doing for residents of this town. If we approve this proposal as it is we are burying Bury under tarmac and concrete.”

Mr Ereira said Vision 2031 currently contained no sustainable transport policy around the new developments and suggested that as many 12,000 more vehicles could be on Bury’s roads.

He added: “We must have a proper sustainable transport policy for all of this development, otherwise we are making something not very pleasant for existing residents and it won’t look very pleasant for future ones.”

Graham Newman, cabinet member for roads and transport, said questioned Mr Ereira’s prediction of 12,000 more cars, but admitted there would be more vehicles added: “We have to work hard on sustainable alternatives.”

In response to Mr Beckwith, he said that the county council would work with the borough to monitor the situation.