Campaigners have spoken of their ‘disappointment’ after a council objected to a planning inspector’s proposed changes for the Leg of Mutton site in Bury St Edmunds.
Planning inspector Roger Clews says that the land west of Rougham Road be used as ‘amenity public open space for informal outdoor recreation’ - a modification to St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s original plans for the site which would have included some buildings.
However, the council has objected to his changes for the land asking that he clarify what ‘informal recreation’ would entail and whether his modification would make the ‘proposal viable for the land owner to sell it for use as public open space’.
Campaigners including the Bury Water Meadows Group, which wants to buy the land to preserve it solely for public open access and aims to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant, have expressed concerns over the council’s move.
Andrew Hinchley, chairman of the group, said he did not think it was ‘within the council’s remit to make a judgement’ with regards to the viability of selling the land.
He said: “We’re only three months into developing our application and we’ve got a huge amount of support. The council has agreed to meet us next week but there’s been no discussion or request to look at what we’re doing until now.
“They’re making a judgement about what we can do without talking to us.”
Alan Jary, chairman of the Bury Society, said they were ‘disappointed’ by the council’s move as they thought the inspector had ‘got it right’,
The inspector’s modification follows a public inquiry on the council’s blueprint for growth Vision 2031, which includes plans to build 5,900 homes across Bury St Edmunds.
A council spokeswoman said: “While we have no direct interest in the site, the council is responding to the Inspector’s recommended modifications as we will have to use Vision 2031 to deal with proposals for development that come forward in the future.
“We support recreational use of the Leg of Mutton site but recognise that the land is owned by a business that will want to make a return on any sale and also that whoever buys it will need to fund the ongoing upkeep of the site. We are therefore asking the Planning Inspector to give an explanation of what ‘informal recreation’ is and to consider whether the modification would make the proposal viable for the land owner to sell it for use as public open space.
“If the permitted uses of the land add no extra value, we are concerned that the owner will have no incentive to sell, making both the council’s and community’s aspirations very difficult to achieve.”
A consultation on the Inspector’s modifications runs until May 30.