A public inquiry will be held into St Edmundsbury Council’s plans for how Haverhill, Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding village should develop over the next two decades.
Secretary of state for community and local government Eric Pickles MP has appointed Roger Clews BA MSc DipEd DipTP MRTPI as independent inspector to take charge of the examination of the St Edmundsbury Vision 2031 documents.
After three years of public consultation the Vision documents were submitted for examination on October 21.
The inquiry will take place on eight days between January 28 and February 12 in Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds.
Plans for the rural area south will be heard at Days Inn Haverhill at 9.30am on February 4. Haverhill Leisure Centre will hold the inquiry to hear about objectives, travel, infrastructure and the environment at 10am the following day and at 2pm that day will hear about local centres, community facilities and Haverhill town centre. Homes and communities will be discussed at the same venue at 9.30am on February 6.
The controversial documents have been criticised by residents including Suffolk County Councillor Tony Brown, who set up a petition calling for a better deal for the town and calling for better infrastructure, health services and an improved town centre.
Ian Johnson, representing 300 residents from around Roman Way, complained about the lack of provision of green space and woodland in relation to the population rocketing to over 35,000.
Mr Clews will undertake the formal examination and will focus on whether the document is legally compliant and sound (fit for purpose).
The inspector, having read all of the submissions received during the final June to August consultation has now decided which topics he would like to explore further through informal hearing sessions.
This forms the basis for the programme that has been published this week.
The examination hearings are open for the public to observe the proceedings, but they will not be able to take an active part unless Mr Clews has previously invited them to do so.
Details of the inquiry are on the St Edmundsbury Borough council website at www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk
Once completed, the inspector will report back his findings to St Edmundsbury and any modifications that he requires will have to be consulted on.
The final stage is for a meeting of full Council to adopt Vision 2031 as council policy.
Cllr Terry Clements, St Edmundsbury portfolio holder for planning said: “Once adopted, Vision 2031 will provide the structure for sustainable, acceptable growth in the borough and protect it from undesirable growth that we would otherwise not have grounds to refuse.
“The public consultation has revealed the deep allegiance of our residents to all that is good in the borough.
“This plan seeks to protect that by ensuring that inevitable future growth is desirable and appropriate.”
The Bury St Edmunds hearings are at:
– January 28, Apex Centre, 10am – General Matters for Vision 2031
– January 29, Apex Centre, 9.30am – Objectives, Travel, Infrastructure and the Environment – Bury St Edmunds strategic sites
– January 30, Apex Centre, 10am – Homes and Communities and Jobs and Economy – 2pm – Culture and Leisure, historic and natural environment and Bury St Edmunds Town Centre
– February 11, Apex, 10am – Rural Area North
– February 12, Apex, 10am – Rural Area North continued
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, December 19) Echo.