Anger over planned new footpath on narrow bend
Villagers and a politician fear a proposed new footpath linking 42 planned new homes in Somersham could increase the risk of an accident on a narrow bend.
A decision on the proposals for the housing development off Main Road was deferred by Mid Suffolk District Council's planning committee in early October after concerns were raised about road safety.
The proposal looks to link the new homes to the rest of the village - its shop, amenities and primary school - by creating a pedestrian footpath on a narrow bend. Developer Hopkins Homes said it had been asked to draw up the revised plans for a footpath by the council's planning committee, despite the site having been previously recommended for approval.
Residents have objected to the plans, saying there have been many near misses on the bend and that reducing the width of the road at that point to create the footpath would put road users and pedestrians at risk.
Dr Dan Poulter, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, has now waded into the row - backing residents in their fight against the footpath.
He said: "Although planning applications are a matter for the local council, in the case of this application in Somersham I felt compelled to write to the chief executive of the district council and the chair of the planning committee outlining my serious concerns about the potential danger to children and other pedestrians that may be caused if planning permission is granted."
Andy Laughlin, who lives on the bend, said: "If you narrow it by a metre, those cars are not going to get through. For us it is good to have Dr Poulter's support, he understands the issues we have been raising all along."
Simon Bryan, development director for Hopkins Homes, said: "The site has already been identified as suitable for development. Our original proposals did not contain a footpath and were recommended by the council's planning officers to be approved. However, the planning committee, including local councillors, asked us to draw up revised plans with Suffolk County Council's Highways team to create a footpath.
"We have now amended the plans to deliver a substantially improved footpath for pedestrians which has been agreed with the highways authority.
"However, we are content with either option.
"The development will deliver 15 affordable homes and a good mix for open market homes, including bungalows.
"It will also deliver more than £500,000 of Community Infrastructure Levy of which some £75,000 will be directed to Somersham Parish Council to support local community and infrastructure projects."