Transport plans come under the spotlight in Vision 2031 inquiry

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Questions have been raised over plans to combat increased traffic - associated with the influx of 5,900 homes in Bury St Edmunds - at a public inquiry into a council’s blueprint for growth.

Sustainable transport, funding and potential traffic calming solutions came under the microscope at the examination into St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Vision 2031 framework, which would see five strategic housing sites built around the town.

Led by planning inspector Roger Clews, the eight day inquiry focuses on whether the plan is legally compliant and sound.

On the issue of sustainable transport during a hearing at The Apex on Wednesday, Mr Clews raised concerns about the plan’s public transport policy.

Ian Poole, place shaping manager, said the town centre bus station would be expanded, they are considering offering residents on the West Bury site free bus passes for the first year and there are potential corridors and links for buses into the existing network.

Cllr David Nettleton said other than the bus station extension, which would encroach onto a car park, there were ‘no disincentives’ against using cars.

Cllr Trevor Beckwith said there was no sustainable travel plan and current congestion is ‘appalling’.

The hearing focused on the traffic consequences of the plans - with questions as to how calming measures will be drawn up and funded.

A report commissioned by St Edmundsbury Borough and Suffolk County Councils examined potential solutions for four A14 junctions and seven roundabouts.

Dave Watson, transport strategy manager for the county, said the ‘precise format’ of mitigation will be developed as planning applications come forward. He added that the county council would provide some funding and they had started to work with the borough and developers ‘to find a way of working out who should take responsibility for dealing with mitigation of particular parts of the town’.

Lorraine O’Gorman, of the Highways Agency, said the proposed mitigation schemes were ‘viable’.

Andrew Hinchley, of the Churchgate Area Association, raised concerns that without an area wide transport study the impact on the town centre will not be taken into account before major developments start.

Mr Poole said there will be a town centre masterplan.