Anger at hospital move plan

PROPOSALS to relocate a hospital to rural land west of Bury St Edmunds have been met with anger and criticism from village residents.

Jonathan Schofield

PROPOSALS to relocate a hospital to rural land west of Bury St Edmunds have been met with anger and criticism from village residents.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is proposing to move West Suffolk Hospital to agricultural land close to the village of Westley.

People living in the village and those to the north in the Fornhams have hit out at the council for the lack of consultation with them and the “slack analysis” behind the plans.


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Jim Sweetman, chairman of Westley's Save Our Village Campaign, said: “There is universal opposition to this idea which is not helped by St Edmundsbury failing to properly consult with people on the plans. We are not against hospitals being built but this is in the wrong place and when you look at the infrastructure surrounding where they want to put it, there is clearly a case of slack analysis by our borough council.”

He said if the hospital went ahead, combined with Bellway Homes planning application to build 450 new homes between Westley and Bury, the village would be destroyed and swallowed up by Bury.

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“It goes against all St Edmundsbury's rhetoric to ensure villages retain their local character and people must now speak out to ensure this does not happen,” he added.

The hospital's relocation is part of the borough council's Local Development Framework, currently out to consultation until October 7. A document within the submission states that it will “make provision for the long term development of a sub-regional health campus (relocation of West Suffolk Hospital) of landmark buildings set within high quality landscape”.

Michael Collier, chairman of Fornham All Saints Parish Council, said the impact of putting a hospital in Westley would be felt by people in his village and all residents living along the B1106.

“There are plans to build 6,000 homes to the north of us in Thetford and now a new hospital and homes to the south,” he said. “You only have to look at the extremely minor roads here which makes us very anxious about the increasing numbers of cars and emergency vehicles that would be forced to use them.”

Terry Clemence, borough council cabinet member for transport and planning, said: “This is one of many proposals that are subject to a masterplan and something we are looking at for the future.

“Consultation will be taking place and we intend to maintain the identity of the village and the people living there.

“The council's Local Development Framework is there to set out areas of potential growth.”

For more information on the local development framework and to submit your views on the consultation go to www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk.

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