MP meets villagers about housing plans

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RESIDENTS, who fear a proposed development will threaten the future of their village, have met MP Matthew Hancock to discuss the plans.

Members of the Save the Village campaign group and other locals in Westley voiced their concerns to Mr Hancock about the proposals, which would include about 450 homes, a health campus and a relief road as part of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s core strategy.

They say the village would be absorbed into Bury St Edmunds, destroying its identity and creating excess traffic.

Speaking to the Bury Free Press, Jim Sweetman, a spokesman for the Save the Village group, said: “We’re a village, we like being a village and want to retain its integrity. We don’t see the need to build houses which will simply absorb us.”

Helen O’Connell, 53, of Fornham Lane, said: “It’s a unique village and to lose that would be a great loss for residents and visitors. The big concern is the flow of traffic through the village.”

Bernard Woolston, 63, of Old Church Lane, said: “What about our children and grandchildren – once these villages get swallowed up they won’t come back.”

Jason Ford, 40, of Westley Gardens, said: “I’m not against houses being built but it should be in sensible areas. There are other areas that don’t swallow up villages. It’s about maintaining a separate identity.”

Residents in other areas argue they will affected including Sandra Footer, 67, of Oliver Road, Bury. She said: “The main concern is the traffic. It’s just bedlam at the moment and it will make the situation worse.”

After the meeting, Mr Hancock said: “My job is to ensure people’s voices are heard. It’s for the council to make the decision and I will be talking to the council to make sure the people of Westley are properly represented.”

A spokeswomen for St Edmundsbury said an independent planning inspector had agreed that Westley was a ‘suitable area for growth’ and residents recently had the chance to work with developers to ‘help shape that growth’.