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Council accused of ‘seeking to increase wealth of private landowners’ over Leg of Mutton site

The Leg of Mutton site

The Leg of Mutton site

Campaigners have hit out at a council for objecting to a planning inspector’s recommendations to preserve the Leg of Mutton site from development.

Planning inspector Roger Clews says that the land west of Rougham Road, in Bury St Edmunds, should be used as ‘amenity public open space for informal outdoor recreation’ with buildings permitted only to support such use.

However, St Edmundsbury Borough Council plans to object to his recommendations for the privately owned land - arguing in committee papers that it is unlikely the landowner would ‘receive sufficient return from the uses specified in the policy to enable it to proceed’.

The authority also wants to define the meaning of ‘informal recreation’.

Borough Cllr Julia Wakelam condemned the decision as ‘seeking to increase the wealth of private landowners at the expense of the community and the environment’.

The Bury Water Meadows Group, which wants to buy the land to preserve it for public open access and aims to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant, also expressed concerns.

Andrew Hinchley, chairman of the group, said he did not think it was within the council’s ‘remit to make their judgement’ with regards to the viability of selling the land.

The group suggests that if the council’s challenge is upheld as valid, the inspector’s recommendations ‘will have to be struck out’.

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’.

A council spokeswoman said: “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. To comment visit www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk

 

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