The Vision 2031 inquiry heard a well-researched and impassioned plea from a Haverhill resident for the town to have more open parkland and its own country park.
Roman Way resident Ian Johnson has campaigned on behalf of some 350 people for some time for more open areas of green land to be included in the Vision 2031 plan.
Addressing the inquiry when it was held last Thursday morning (Feb 6) at Haverhill Leisure Centre he said: “Haverhill’s parkland is 46 hectares, so we’ve got 46h of parkland with a 27,000 population, as it is now.
“As far as Bury St Edmunds is concerned that has 109h of parkland for a 35,000 population, so when our population in 2031 exceeds 35,000 we would expect to have at least the same, 109h, as Bury St Edmunds, because of course we are all paying the same council tax.”
Mr Johnson said Haverhill at the very least should have 30h of parkland allocated on the plan, not 20h as it currently has.
He also emphasised that according to the Vision document Haverhill will have a 22h shortfall of nature reserve come 2031, an issue that needs to be addressed.
Mr Johnson said Haverhill should also have its own country park, which could be achieved by creating a new area parkland and merging it with East Town Park.
In support of this, he said: “Suffolk County Council has got a strategy for reducing car journeys.
“Because Haverhill has not got a country park our population travels to the nearest country parks.
“There are two in Bury and one at Wandlebury and one in Clare and if only five per cent of the 2031 population travelled to those parks in each year, in one year it would be the equivalent of travelling ten times round the world.
“What we are saying is ‘let’s have a country park in Haverhill as a destination because you will have all that travel to all those other parks.”
The suggested location for the country park would, he added, also be just five minutes from the 2,500 houses proposed for the north east Haverhill development.
Ian Poole, from St Edmundsbury Council’s planning department said he believes the plans have a ’generous’ provision for parkland and open green space, with 50h for Haverhill.
He added: “No homes are more than half-a-mile from recreational space.”
Marcia Whitehead of Bidwells said it was not the job of north-east Haverhill to provide for past shortfalls in the town in terms of amenity land.