Plan for petition against homes

A TOWN-wide petition is being planned over issues surrounding thousands of homes to be built over the next 20 years.

Councillors Trevor Beckwith and Mark Ereira-Guyer are working on the petition following an emotionally charged meeting where plans to build 5,900 homes in Bury St Edmunds came under fire.

The developments will be spread over five sites – detailed in St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Vison 2031, which spells out how future growth including employment, education and infrastructure will be managed over the next 20 years.

During the Our Place meeting last Thursday – chaired by Bury MP David Ruffley – county councillors, residents as well as representatives from parish and town councils and neighbourhood groups hit out at the level of development and impact on the town and surrounding villages.

In a show of hands, the majority were in favour of a town-wide petition on the issues.

On the petition’s theme, Cllr Beckwith, who organised the meeting with Cllr Ereira-Guyer, said: “It’s more likely to be about the location of the homes. The numbers are also an issue and we might be able to incorporate both. The biggest issue is the impact on existing communities.”

Mr Ruffley said: “There are residents who are nervous about any new building. I think the borough council needs to have another go at explaining why new housing units are needed and where this 5,900 figure comes from.”

During the Our Place meeting, which is a Suffolk County Council initiative, Cllr Terry Clements, portfolio holder for planning for St Edmundsbury, stressed that if they didn’t provide enough homes, the borough would be ‘at risk from speculative developments, planning by appeal and developers not delivering infrastructure the (authority’s) core strategy requires’.

After the meeting, Cllr John Griffiths, leader of the council, said there had been a two-month consultation programme on Vision 2031 with drop-in sessions for residents held across the borough.

He said the housing figures were arrived at ‘following a great deal of consultation at the time’ and ‘was a lesser amount than the Government at that stage were trying to impose’.

Cllr Griffiths added: “We’re very keen to work with everybody who cares about the best future for Bury and the surrounding area. It’s important to get things as right as we possibly can and take into account all people’s comments.”