After four years of campaigning by the Save Our Meadows group that Green County Councillor Robert Lindsay helped set up, Suffolk County Council (SCC) has announced that the option of building a bypass across the water meadows just outside the market town of Sudbory will not be taken forward at this time, despite providing “a lot of benefits to the town”.
SCC said the cost – at between £50million and £70million – is “prohibitively high resulting in a low benefit cost ratio”.
The campaign for a bypass in Sudbury was launched last year and divided opinion in the community, with some welcoming the idea while others were concerned over its environmental impact on the surrounding Water Meadows.
Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for highways, transport and rural issues, said; “We have looked at a number of ways to relieve congestion around Sudbury town centre and have considered all options including the construction of a bypass.
“Taking all this into account, the most feasible option for us now is to improve existing infrastructure rather than building a new road. That is what we are now focusing our attention and resources on.“The priority for Suffolk County Council is to find the best solution for Sudbury.”
The council says it will now work with WSP to design junction improvements in more detail and model what the junction improvements could achieve, as well as assessing whether other complementary measures, such as improvements for walking and cycling, would provide additional benefits.
SCC says it will also look to secure a source of funding for this work.
Green County Councillor Robert Lindsay, who spearheaded the Save Our Water Meadows campaign, said the decision is “great news”.
“It is great news that Suffolk County Council have realised, at last, that the damage from a bypass built beautiful, tranquil countryside, used and loved by thousands of people, will far outweigh any supposed benefits. What is needed now is a fresh, holistic look at the transport situation in Sudbury.
“There are not enough buses linking Cornard with Sudbury, there is virtually no bus service to the health centre built on the north side of town and there are not enough buses linking towns people with the main employment centre on the east of town.
“A huge proportion of people driving to Sudbury are driving less than one mile distance.
“Using £10m as a seed fund, we could draw up a plan to make the town a beacon for walking and cycling and public transport. We should prioritise road space for bus lanes, cycle lanes and pedestrians, encouraging more people to leave their cars at home.”
A petition against the bypass gathered 7,000 signatures. Councillor Lindsay said this should encourage others concerned about bypass plans in their area not to be afraid to speak out against them.
“You will encourage the quiet people who, until you set the lead, were afraid to speak out, and who thought it was inevitable. the DfT insisted that proponents of such schemes show that there is strong local backing. Our petition and campaign showed the DfT there was not.”