Bury relief road land wrangle drags out access nightmare for business estate

Looking south down Sow Lane. Land on right marked private is RITA owned, including where new kerb is installed. Picture: Justin Godfrey
Looking south down Sow Lane. Land on right marked private is RITA owned, including where new kerb is installed. Picture: Justin Godfrey
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Businesses on Rougham Industrial Estate are angry over disruption caused by work on the Eastern Relief Road which they say is delayed because the county does not own land it needs to finish it.

Businesses say months of traffic delays have hit trade and increasing costs while Suffolk County Council and its contractors have been slow to respond to complaints.

Sow Lane showing the unfinished east carriageway with yellow tape on left marks that land owners boundary. Picture: Justin Godfrey

Sow Lane showing the unfinished east carriageway with yellow tape on left marks that land owners boundary. Picture: Justin Godfrey

In May it got so bad businesses reported suppliers refusing to deliver to them because access directly from the A14 via Sow Lane was closed. That has reopened but three-way traffic lights there are still causing hold ups.

Justin Godfrey, managing director of Thomas Ridley Foodservice, says over the 18 months of the project delays have increased the running costs of his 50 lorries by about £200,000.

He says Suffolk County Council went ahead with the road when it did not own all the land needed. His company is a shareholder in Rougham Industrial Traders (RITA) which owns land on one side of the works and he says negotiations for it began in 2014.

He says SCC changed the road’s route to avoid RITA land but the company had doubts the county could fit the road in the land it had at Sow Lane.

He added: “Currently built in Sow Lane area is a ridiculously narrow highway, far too narrow for a distributor and relief road, with kerbs built into privately owned [RITA] land. There does not appear to be any room for a pathway.”

He says another land owner is in negotiations over land on the other side of the road.

Asked why SCC went ahead with the work when it did not own enough land, its spokesman said: “If you approach on person for advice you may get one solution, if you approach someone else you get a different point of view.

“There are discussions going on that I can’t go into. This is a major project contributing to the financial growth of the area.”

He added they were still ‘on target’ for a September finish.

But that is not good enough for some of the businesses.

John Frost, managing director of MC Integ, said: “The whole thing has been a shambles – all we get is a fluffy email saying it will finish some time in September.”

Like many businesses he calls for the existing part of the relief road to be opened as an alternative route to the estate, but the county spokesman said it could not do that because it is not yet a legally adopted road.