Campaigners are jubilant after a planning inspector ruled that a Bury St Edmunds beauty spot should be saved from development – preserving it for generations to come.
Planning inspector Roger Clews says that the Leg of Mutton field, off Rougham Road, which has been descibed as a ‘green lung’ for the town, should only be used for informal recreation only.
His recommendation forms part of his backing of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Vision 2031 blueprint for growth.
It marks a victory for campaigners who have fought to preserve the land as open space, though the recommendation will need to be formally approved by the council in September.
Andrew Hinchley, chairman of the Bury Water Meadows Group, which wants to purchase the land for the town, said: “Our group is over the moon that the planning inspector has confirmed ‘informal recreation only’ for the Leg of Mutton.
“Grateful thanks to all the many, many Bury residents who wrote to the inspector in May, supporting the inspector’s draft recommendation.
“Of course it will be the September full council meeting which will need to vote through the report but most people say we should assume this is a formality.
“There is now the major challenge of raising funds to purchase the land for the town. It will be a lot of work but I hope there will be the backing of the whole town in conserving this much loved natural open space in the middle of historic Bury.”
Sue Tamlyn, a member of Suffolk Preservation Society and a representative for them in the Water Meadows Group, said: “It’s absolutely splendid – we’ve been fighting for it for nearly a year.”
Karen Hurden, chairman of the Bury Society, added: “We’re very pleased that he (the planning inspector) has held to his original decision.”
Initially St Edmundsbury Borough Council queried Mr Clews’ draft recommendation for the Leg of Mutton.
A spokesman said: “The inspector has clarified the definition of informal recreational use, which provides clarity for those organisations and the landowner with an interest in the Leg of Mutton.”