Resident’s fears over Vision 2031 plans

Jim Sweetman, of the Save the Village Group, outside the proposed development site
Jim Sweetman, of the Save the Village Group, outside the proposed development site
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COUNCIL plans for the regeneration of Bury St Edmunds received a cold reception from Westley residents on Monday who fear their village will be consumed by the town.

Early designs on a site near the village were viewed by Westley residents at a planning consultation at Westley Club attended by more than 30 people.

A hospital and 450 houses have been outlined by St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Bellway Homes, with tracks of greenland in between to act as a buffer between the village and Bury.

But worried residents fear their village will not be able to handle the increase in traffic moving through their quiet village.

Fears were also raised that the village will be consumed by the town and that a relief road, to help shift new traffic created by the housing and hospital, will be pushed out of the plans at a later date.

Jim Sweetman, on behalf of the Save the Village group in Westley, said: “First we don’t understand why there was to be this expansion of Bury at all. With 450 new houses bring built there won’t be enough jobs to support it.

“The development will change the character of the village altogether.

“We also have a hospital site on there - we never felt this is the place for it. There are much more suitable places where it could be put.

“Some places have been damaged beyond repair by bad planning but it is not too late to save Bury St Edmunds.”

Westley parish councillor Steve McClellan said he supported affordable housing but shared the view that there would be too much of a price to pay.

He said: “Personally I have two kids and I would be like to see more affordable housing for them.

“What I have a problem with is there is a presumption the houses will be built but the other bits, like infrastructure, roads and jobs, are aspirational. The council should have the houses as aspirational, depending on the infrastructure.”

Ian Poole, Planning Policy and Specialist Services Manager at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “Effectively what we have is a core strategy which was identified in 2010 for an area of growth.

“From that it is a practice of building the layers of detail that identify where blocks of development are going to go.

“All local residents were asked this time last year to help block plans for how to get what we want to achieve - the plans have evolved from that work. It is about putting the decisions on the people who will be living with it.

Ian said the relief road had been contested by Bellway Homes in the past but that the road was a crucial element of the planning policy.

He said: “It is there in the main policy, it is in the planning policy - it needs to be built.”