Residents say no to ‘houses and bypass’ project

Brandon  level crossing.
Brandon level crossing.
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A proposal to build a relief road for Brandon along with 2,500 houses was almost unanimously rejected by at a public meeting there.

Brandon Leisure Centre was packed for the meeting last Friday, called by West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock with Thetford MP Elizabeth Truss, whose constituency borders the town.

Matthew Hancock told the meeting: “Brandon is one of the biggest towns in the country that still has a major road going through the middle. There’s an extremely strong case for a relief road.”

He said a group of land owners had come forward with the plan for 2,500 houses around the relief road and he felt the right thing was to seek residents’ views.

Elizabeth Truss said Network Rail had promised funding for a bridge, to replace the town’s level crossing, while there was a chance of EU match funding.

She said the level crossing was one of the biggest issues in her postbag and added: “Its not sustainable and will be even less sustainable when it goes to a half hourly service.”

But Mark Paveley, who owns a greengrocers in Market Hill, set the tone for the public response.

To cheers of approval he said: “They’re talking about 2,500 houses, say 1.8 cars per house, that’s 4,000 cars — the relief road is going to be full up with traffic just from there.”

He also feared building a bridge that did not continue the High Street across the rail line would make Brandon a ‘ghost town’.

John Maxim, who chaired a Brandon Action Group trying to get a bypass in the 1990s, said: “Do the job properly and put in a bypass that would go all the way round.”

He said the mid 1990s plan had been for a route on the other side of town.

Some people suggested waiting to see impact the of dualling the A11.

A show of hands for a bypass was unanimously in favour, but asked if they supported a bypass with housing, the audience gave a resounding ‘no’. There was significant support for replacing the level crossing with a bridge.