Councillors have renewed longstanding calls for a travel plan to help mitigate the impact of 5,900 new homes in Bury St Edmunds.
They are calling on Suffolk County Council bosses to come up with a sustainable travel plan for the whole town to combat the expected influx in traffic associated with the major development.
As part of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Vision 2031 framework for growth, there will be five strategic housing sites. A report commissioned by the borough and county examined potential traffic calming solutions for four A14 junctions and seven roundabouts – but there have been repeated calls for a full plan for the town.
These were renewed at the Bury Our Place Forum on Monday where Cllr Mary Evans, the county’s assistant cabinet member for highways, said the plans would become clearer as each development came forward. She said they were looking at measures such as encouraging people not to use their cars.
After the meeting, county and borough councillor Sarah Stamp said that last year they were assured county council officers would arrange a summit to discuss the plan early this year, which hasn’t happened despite frequent chasing by all four of Bury’s county councillors.
County and borough councillor Trevor Beckwith said: “Throughout the process I’ve said ‘tell me how it’s going to work’. I’m not getting answers.” County and borough councillor David Nettleton said: “They haven’t got a strategy – that’s quite clear, so they’re doing piecemeal work which they say will resolve the issues. I don’t think they believe it themselves.”
County councillor Mark Ereira-Guyer said: “There must be a level of despair about the adequacy of the council’s response to this.” Borough councillor Diane Hind said: “We need to have a sensible and coherent plan. As for saying get on your bike or buses it isn’t the right strategy on its own – it’s only a very small part.”
During the meeting Borough councillor Paul Hopfensperger called for a plan for a ‘proper cycling system through Bury’.
A county council spokeswoman said it would be better placed to develop traffic mitigation when more detailed proposals come forward from developers. She said it was working to identify areas for improvement for pedestrians, cyclists and buses. It has also obtained £2.25 million from the New Anglia LEP, supported by £500,000 county transport funding, for sustainable transport improvements in Bury.