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Improvements needed to road and transport links for Western Way Development in Bury St Edmunds, say councillors

Councillors have called for improvements to roads and transport infrastructure as part of plans for a multi-million pound development to bring public services together.

On Tuesday night, members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council unanimously backed an outline business case for the Western Way Development and approved funding to prepare a final business case for the £100 to £125 million pound site.

The vision for the area includes a new £25 million leisure centre on the site of the authority’s depot and a building to house public services, which would be constructed using the steel frame of the depot building and an adjoining warehouse, in Olding Road.

Western Way Development. Picture: Pick Everard.
Western Way Development. Picture: Pick Everard.

Accommodation for about 150 West Suffolk College students would be built on the site of the current leisure centre, in Beeton’s Way.

Cllr John Griffiths said: “This is a bold, forward looking, ambitious scheme for a bold council which has consistently done its best for the people of West Suffolk.”

Although councillors backed the initial plans, some members called for improvements to road and transport infrastructure to cope with demand for the site as well as other developments in the area including the Abbeygate Sixth Form.

Before the debate on the scheme, Cllr Max Clarke called for investment in a park and ride - an issue which was also raised later by Cllrs Julia Wakelam and Diane Hind.

Cllr Wakelam said: “There should be a commitment to encouraging staff not to use cars by financially incentivising people to cycle or walk.”

An unnamed GP surgery could move from the town centre to the development, which Cllr Hind said ‘would not necessarily provide additional capacity’ and she would have liked to have seen a commitment for a new GP surgery.

Cllr David Nettleton called for a pedestrian and cycle bridge to be built from Oakes Road over the railway line and road to the area close to Asda’s car park.

Cllr Paul Hopfensperger said he would like to see a splash park and highlighted the ‘Bury St Edmunds Needs a Water/Splash Play Park’ Facebook group, which has thousands of members.

Addressing Cllr Clarke’s point about a park and ride, Cllr Griffiths said they were ‘looking at all options’ in terms of transport challenges but a park and ride ‘is much more complicated than it might seem at first sight’.

He said a detailed transport assessment would be brought to councillors.

The outline business case noted that, given the Western Way Development and Abbeygate Sixth Form plans, councils and education partners have discussed carrying out a joint scheme next year to upgrade the Beeton’s Way/Western Way junction.

The final business case would be presented to the new West Suffolk Council in July 2019 with plans to open the first phase of the development in 2023.

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