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Security and consultation questions over new path to rear of Fornham Road, in Bury St Edmunds

Concerns over lack of consultation and impact on security have been raised after a new public walk in Bury St Edmunds was announced.

Last week, we reported on the Lark Valley Project to bring a neglected trail along the back of Fornham Road back into use.

The move followed an agreement between landowner British Sugar and St Edmundsbury Borough Council following a campaign by Bury Water Meadows Group (BWMG).

Cllr David Nettleton (6985250)
Cllr David Nettleton (6985250)

But this week, concerns were raised over a lack of consultation with residents – whose gardens run straight down to the River Lark, with many unfenced – about the scheme.

Councillor David Nettleton said he had been in touch with 57 residents, with several opposing the walk.

"Many back gardens back straight on to the river with no fencing. It is going to leave them open, their security is gone, but the council has said 'tough luck' basically," said Cllr Nettleton, who also criticised St Edmundsbury Borough Council's communication, with a letter informing residents sent days ago.

"If you ask people about something, they might be okay about it, but if you just do it they're more likely to feel annoyed," he added.

Resident David Bowie said he was particularly concerned about the impact on his home security once the walk was opened to the public, which could be as early as next spring.

"Suddenly, they are planning to open it up and as well as security concerns, we will have a lack of privacy as people will be able to look down into our garden and home. They seem to have done it without telling anybody. It seems wrong that they can impose it," said Mr Bowie.

"For a handful of people who want to walk their dogs, it seems an awful lot of hassle."

Andrew Hinchley, of BWMG, said bushes would be planted opposite affected houses, but some residents might want to install fences.

"We hope that as these residents are getting effectively a guarantee the woodland will not be developed in their lifetimes and that it will be actively maintained to benefit wildlife, then at the price of having some public access through a woodland walkway the changes can be seen as overall very much in their favour," he added.

A St Edmundsbury Borough Council spokesman said it had invited comments from residents and held meetings, but could install some fencing for safety reasons.

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