Campaigners are celebrating a victory after a planning inspector rejected a council’s plan to allow development on a green open space in Bury St Edmunds.
Since publication of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s proposed Vision 2031 plans, which provided details of five strategic growth areas in the town, the Water Meadows Group (BWMG) has fought to protect the Leg of Mutton field.
The 15-hectare field beside the River Lark - bordered by Rougham Road, the A14 and a cycleway between Raingate Street and Moreton Hall - is among a number of ‘recommended modifications’ proposed by the inspector as part of his examination of the document.
His draft report requires the land to be designated for ‘informal’ outdoor recreation, with no building development other than to support that use - in line with submissions by the BWMG, the Bury Society and a number of Bury residents.
BWMG chairman Andrew Hinchley said he was ‘over the moon’ about the decision and hoped the council would not challenge it.
He added: “The BWMG is now going to launch a ‘fighting fund’ to support detailed preparation for a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to purchase this land for the people of Bury.”
Alan Jary, chairman of the Bury Society, said it was ‘a great result and marvellous news’.
He said: “The society opposed development on this land in the 1980s and has been consistent in opposing development again in Vision 2031.
“There is a recognised need, when town centres expand, to conserve natural open space.”
The inspector has also refused a request by developer Taylor Wimpey to extend its Moreton Hall site eastwards along Mount Road and prevented an area earmarked for a new school and community football project from being used for housing.
His report has removed a proposed access road to Ram Meadow from Bury’s Compiegne Way, creating ‘more work’ for the council in terms of traffic management in the town’s residential areas.
It has also allocated land in Ixworth for a school, rejected an application for 190 homes in Barrow and allowed housing or higher-value development - excluding shopping - on land at Stanton’s Shepherd Grove site to make the provision of a business development and access road more financially viable.
Cllr John Griffiths, leader of the council, said of the report: “There’s nothing that at first glance is anything but positive for taking this forward.”
A seven week online consultation on the proposed changes will end on May 30.
Go to www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/sebc-planning-policy-section/Vision-2031-Examination.cfm