Campaigners opposing plans for a Sudbury bypass are calling for important questions to be answered over its benefit and negative impact on the town.
Businesses, community groups, cross-party representatives and South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, pictured below, recently launched a petition to support the scheme.
Pro-bypass campaigners will present the petition to the House of Commons, hoping to secure backing from a Department of Transport £1 billion annual bypass project fund.
But local councillors are questioning what the implications of building a relief road will be on the environment, homes and jobs.
Labour district councillor Luke Cresswell said: “Rarely are bypasses built solely to relieve traffic congestion.
“As expensive infrastructure investments costing millions, they need to earn their corn by stimulating and supporting economic development.
“Invariably, this takes the form of growth in employment or housing – jobs or homes, or both.
“In Sudbury’s case, we need to ask important questions about the bypass.
“For instance, what land use changes are likely to accompany the bypass affecting adjacent areas?
“What new housing will be generated along the corridor of the bypass?
“Is our MP seriously suggesting that a bypass can be built here without any associated economic development along its route?”
Mr Cresswell said everyone agreed there is a problem with traffic congestion and pollution in Sudbury.
But he added: “When fields and meadows, woods and pastures lying fallow or devoted to agricultural uses become zoned for commercial, industrial, leisure or housing, land prices multiply overnight.
“Previously accessible only along narrow, often windy lanes, incapable of sustaining large flows of traffic, the land is effectively opened up by its proximity to a major traffic route.
“As a result, new work places or homes, shops or leisure facilities are built.”
Green county councillor Robert Lindsay said: “Building a massive road across Sudbury’s beautiful water meadows would destroy the town’s greatest asset and do nothing to tackle congestion.
“Building new roads generates more traffic, as more freight moves from trains to lorries and more people opt to take their car rather than public transport.
“Rather than wasting tax payers’ money on yet more road building, our MP and local authorities should be acting to reduce demand for car and lorry use by investing in more frequent bus services, putting an area-wide 20mph limit across the town and creating facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.”