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Planners accused of ignoring public opinion over north-east Haverhill

Wednesday, 4th April 2012.

Planners were accused of ignoring local opinions and consulting residents in a format which is too complex for them to respond, when Haverhill Town Council considered the Vision 2031 document last night.

Members of the public who attended the meeting complained that their views, sought at public consutation events last year, had been completely ignored.

Ian Johnson spoke on behalf of 260 residents who had contacted him because of their concerns over north-east Haverhill development and their inability to make comments themselves due to the format in which responses were required by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

Vision 2031 is the latest document in the local planning process aimed at putting in place policies for the next 20 years' development in Haverhill, both in buildings and services.

The borough's principal planning officer Ian Poole described it as the first true plan Haverhill had had since the Masterplan of 1970.

But Mr Johnson said three clear points had been made by residents consulted about the design of development in north-east Haverhill last year and all three were not included in the documents.

The three issues were: that the triangle between Coupals Road, Wilsey and Calford Green would be given over to parkland; that there would be no road exit into Coupals Road; and that the tree belts would be retained in their entirety.

These aims had been common to all the groups at the consultation, Mr Johnson said.

"Now we have had the draft proposals and we see the request for parkland has been ignored, there is a road out onto Coupals Road and the tree belts are to be cut through," he said.

"In Haverhill we are impoverished with regard to parkland.This is going to be a big development and we need to think big about parkland, not just pockets of it here and there."

He also had concerns about the process because so many people had contacted him who were unable to attend the two consultation events organised this time, were unable to download and read an 83-page document or to fill in the 11-page response form by which comments had to be submitted.

Dr David Hill said at the time of the consultation it had been envisaged the development would all be west of the stream in the valley bottom, but now it was shown with the stream going through the middle. This cut through a lot of country walking.

Bridget Heard from Fastnet Close, who siad there was at present nothing between her garden and Kedington, objected to the road access onto Chalkstone Way, which she said was completely unsuitable to take the traffic from 2,500 extra homes.

The town council agreed to support Mr Johnson's objections, and also agreed a long response to the document on their own behalf.

Town mayor Cllr Maureen Byrne told Mr Poole he would need to simplify the document in future to get any significant comments from people.

"The feedback I have had from residents is that the questionnaire was so complicated they couldn't do it," she said.

"You will have to find something more simple if you genuinely want residents to get involved. A lot of people don't have web access, so you have to find a better way of doing it."

Haverhill Online News

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