Sudbury bypass scheme included in Babergh's plan for strategic infrastructure projects up to 2023
Babergh District Council has confirmed it is continuing to support a Sudbury bypass project over the next three years as one of the key economic projects – despite the scheme having been axed more than a year ago.
Plans for a bypass were shelved in November 2018 because costs would be between £50 million and £70m – a figure deemed too high for the benefits it would bring.
Instead, Suffolk County Council announced it would assess proposals for junction improvements in the town, which would cost significantly less.
But in Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s joint corporate plan, it says the authorities will “support the delivery of strategic infrastructure projects, including Sudbury transport plan, SnOasis, Chilton Woods and Sudbury Relief Road”.
Those projects are listed for 2020-23.
The plan has raised questions over Babergh’s backing of the Sudbury route given that it was axed more than a year ago, but it says it has not given up on it happening entirely.
Councillor Michael Holt, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, said: “We are very well aware of the traffic problems facing Sudbury and are supportive of measures to help alleviate them.
“This is why, for example, we have worked with Suffolk County Council to improve traffic flow and, therefore, air quality in Cross Street and together are sharing proposals to improve junctions and bus routes in and around the town centre.
“We are, of course, aware that the county is not currently working on progressing the Sudbury relief road project, but this doesn’t mean our interest in it should wane.
“Including the road in this list of projects and programmes is simply confirmation that we stand ready to work with the county council should it wish to.
“In the meantime, we will pursue other projects to help the people of Sudbury and Babergh as a whole.”
The project had divided opinion, with some saying it is desperately needed to solve the town’s traffic woes, while others raised concerns on the impact it would have on the surrounding area – particularly around the Water Meadows.
Cllr Robert Lindsay, the Babergh Green group leader, who has been involved in the campaign against a relief road, said: “We certainly should not be including the bypass as a project to support.
“Money from the Department for Transport is not there and will not be in the future, since the climate crisis means we have to reduce road space for vehicles, not increase it.
“We should fund a project that looks at sustainable transport in Sudbury, reducing car use and increasing cycling, walking and buses.
“Make Sudbury a walking and cycling town. One possibility could be an ultra-low emission zone for the town, with polluting vehicles wanting to enter having to pay to a ring-fenced fund that supports public transport.
“Another possibility might be a workplace parking levy. Any fees for car parking need to be ring-fenced for public transport investment, walking and cycling.
“Moving the lorry route out of town is also worth looking at, but it needs to be combined with measures to encourage people to leave their cars at home.”
More by this authorJason Noble, Local Democracy Reporter