Bid for second look at plans for 5,900 homes in Bury St Edmunds rejected

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A bid to get county councillors to reconsider their support for the controversial Vision 2031 framework due to concerns over ‘severe negative’ transport impacts has been rejected.

Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee ruled the authority’s cabinet had ‘sufficient information’ when it chose to back St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s proposals for 5,900 homes in Bury.

The matter was called-in by councillors including Mark Ereira-Guyer, Trevor Beckwith and David Nettleton, who demanded a sustainable transport and traffic management plan to cope with the expected pressures on the town’s infrastructure.

During the meeting on Tuesday, Cllr Ereira-Guyer said: “The cabinet didn’t look at any information really or of any great detail of how to mitigate the severe negative transport impacts.” He argued that transport infrastructure will be ‘piece meal’ and developer-led which would ‘undermine’ the council’s Greenest County initiative.

Cllr Ereira-Guyer added there is a need for ‘specific and strategic proposals’ regarding bus lanes, integrated public transport provision and a complete cycle network.

Cllr Beckwith said the council’s response on mitigation measures so far had been ‘vague’.

Cllr Nettleton said the county council’s approach and report by AECOM suggesting traffic calming solutions for four junctions and seven roundabouts was ‘too light touch’. He called for an amendment, which was turned down, requesting officers meet regularly with four Bury county councillors to discuss in more detail the best way to implement the travel plan for Vision 2031.

Responding to their concerns, Cllr Graham Newman, cabinet member for roads and transport, said the issues will be taken into consideration as each of the development areas come forward for detailed planning permission as part of the masterplan process.

He said a draft infrastructure delivery plan includes 26 transport improvement projects and there has been ‘a lot of work done’ on the Local Transport Plan.

The committee voted six-six on the matter and chairman Cllr Jane Storey used her casting vote to turn down the call in.

After the meeting, Terry Clements, cabinet member for planning at St Edmundsbury Borough, said many of the transport issues will go through the masterplan process. He added that the council is not just looking at the new developments but ‘trying to improve what’s already there’.