Residents can soon have their final say on changes to a far reaching framework which will manage growth in Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding area over the next 20 years.
Bosses at St Edmundsbury Borough Council have made about 60 ‘significant’ changes to Vision 2031 including reductions in the number of houses earmarked for certain sites and restricting development on the Leg of Mutton beauty spot in Bury.
However, plans to build 5,900 at five sites across the town - 450 in West Bury, 500 in Moreton Hall, 900 between the Howard Estate and Fornham All Saints, 1,250 between Bury and Great Barton and 1,250 in the South-East of the town - remain fixed.
The revisions follow months of consultation on the three Vision 2031 documents for Bury, Haverhill and the rural areas which look at how issues such as housing, the economy, travel, education and health will be managed over the coming two decades.
Once the altered plans are approved by the council’s three area working party committees and the full council, a final consultation will be held from June 18 to August 9 for residents to comment on their soundness and legality.
Comments received will be sent with the final documents to an independent Planning Inspector, who will focus on whether they are legally compliant and sound.
If the Inspector considers an issue needs more discussion - based on comments received during the final consultation - they will invite those concerned to make their case.
Cllr John Griffiths, leader of the council, said: “We’re looking to get this final draft out to the public so they have the opportunity to air their final views to the Inspector who will make a final decision.
“It isn’t just about housing - it’s about balancing the need to protect and preserve all of the wonderful things we have in this part of the world while planning for the right kind of development.
“This is about giving local protection to St Edmundsbury against random speculative development.
“We’ve tried to take everybody’s views into account as we move forward. Some things are different and you can’t possibly make everybody happy but we’ve tried extremely hard to make what I believe to be a good final draft for final consultation.”
Among the changes is a reduction in homes to be built on brownfield sites in Bury including a cut from 52 to 30 at the Garden Centre, 66 to 25 at Shire Hall and 60 to 30 in Jacqueline Close.
Ian Poole, planning policy manager, said the resulting shortfall can be made up through ‘windfall sites’ - using planning applications for housing on redeveloped land which emerge every year in St Edmundsbury.
Meanwhile, the council’s policy relating to the Leg of Mutton site has been ‘tightened’ to address fears of development on the beauty spot.
Mr Poole explained: “We’ve limited the amount of development we will allow on that site to the bare essential to deliver it as public accessible open space.
“At the moment it’s agricultural land. It’s got a power line going over the top of it. There’s potential to open this land for the public and possibly take away the overhead lines and put them underground.”
Cllr Griffiths added: “It’s to see if whether or not we can work with the landowner to make it accessible to people and protect it for future generations.”
Further details and information about how to take part in the consultation will be available on the borough council website www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk/vision2031