Residents voice concerns over plans for traveller site in Bury St Edmunds

Mark Westley Photography'Rougham Hill Bury St Edmunds, site of proposed new travellers site. ANL-140917-171429009
Mark Westley Photography'Rougham Hill Bury St Edmunds, site of proposed new travellers site. ANL-140917-171429009
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Concerns have been raised by residents over plans for a family-run traveller site, on land off Rougham Hill, in Bury St Edmunds.

The Delaney, Casey and Collins extended family are seeking approval from council bosses for a five-pitch private residential traveller site.

Rougham Hill, Bury St Edmunds

Rougham Hill, Bury St Edmunds

However, in a letter to St Edmundsbury Borough Council, residents of nearby retirement park The Firs said their worries about the proposals stemmed from previous experience with traveller sites in the area, notably the former Romany Way, which was a larger local authority run site in Rougham Road.

They said the traveller site was ‘likely to devalue’ their homes and that no invitations were sent to residents on Firs Park for the consultation meetings.

Their other concerns include an increase in traffic, the proximity of the site to the public footpath and lorry park as well as the felling of trees and an increase in litter.

They felt the area was ‘not an adequate size’ to facilitate the number of residents on the traveller site.

Another resident questioned whether the site would attract more travellers after it was established and said they were ‘very concerned for the vulnerable residents’ at The Firs. They called on the council to consider other locations around Bury with the public kept ‘very much in the frame’. They felt the proposals had been ‘conducted in a cloak and dagger fashion’.

During the pre-application consultation sessions, held after the Delaney family posted nearly 300 invitations based on council advice, residents gave a mixed reaction after filling out response forms.

Seven forms were completed with some people supporting the plans while others raised concerns such as whether the site would be kept clean and that ‘other less responsible travellers might want to use the site’.

When asked by the Bury Free Press, borough and county councillor Sarah Stamp said she had been approached by a number of concerned residents and had been able to allay many fears or misconceptions but some genuine concerns remained. She said the family should be encouraged to buy a piece of land to stop the ‘expensive and frustrating cycle’ of spending taxpayer’s money to evict them from public land.

“However, whether Rougham Hill is necessarily the most appropriate site for this proposal remains to be seen,” she added.

The consultation runs until October 10.