Open Letter: Bloor Development diversion at Woods Lane -a solution

Bloor Homes – the start of the Woods Lane works

Sent to: Therese Coffey MP, Suffolk Coastal District Council Planning Chair and Officer, Suffolk County Council Member for Highways, Woodbridge Town Council, Choose Woodbridge, EADT

I’m writing to express my surprise and alarm at the series of unfortunate events relating to the Bloor Homes development at the western (A12) end of Woods Lane, Melton. This has led to Bloor’s requirement to close a section of Woods Lane for a prolongued period of time. I would also like to offer a solution.

The (unacceptable) proposal is to reroute the heavy traffic that travels along Woods Lane between the A12 and Wilford  – north via Melton and south via Woodbridge for the duration of the works. These are estimated to be a matter of months.

Woodbridge-Melton, as well as being a bustling retail centre, houses eight infant/primary/secondary schools with a large catchment area, plus a significant number of nursing and sheltered homes whose care staff cannot afford to live locally and have to commute. The local firestation is staffed by retained firefighters  who need immediate access. My list goes on….

Although this diversion will impact heavily on Woodbridge residents, this development is not within my division. I was therefore not made aware of the proposed lengthy road closures with their inevitable impact on the local economy and local residents until a couple of weeks ago – the same time as it was made public.

It is almost as if this unacceptable decision to divert was to be a fait accompli.

I challenge this.

We seem to be living in a world without joined-up thinking and where the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. Suffolk Coastal District Council is responsible for planning. The district council has been fully aware of the Bloor development for a long time. It cannot be news to a single person in the planning department that drainage etc will need to be put in place for a development of that size – or that, located as it is – in a greenfield site on the other side of a busy road from a busy town, that the chances are that there will be problems in linking up utilities.

The location makes it clear that there would inevitably be major issues – yet the district council now seems unduly surprised when these issues arise and obscurely feels that somehow the County Council Highways department (who have a statutory responsibility to facilitate this development) should be held responsible.

We need to ask the SCDC planning Committee, did the planning department have a different strategy for getting the Bloor drains put in? And what was it?

Bloor is a private company. Its primary aim is to make money for its shareholders. Why has Suffolk Coastal’s District Council planning department not looked at the propriety of Bloor disadvantaging our entire community in its endeavour to make the greatest possible private profit? It is not our problem, that of the residents of Woodbridge and Melton. It is Bloor’s. The company should shoulder the lion’s share of the solution

Surely it should have been possible  – should still be possible – for SCDC to require Bloor to make a temporary roadway through their development land to take the Woods Lane traffic,  while utilities are placed under Woods Lane?

An additional point. Woodbridge has recently agreed a 20mph zone and additional calming for the entire town. One of the principle rationales was the impact of heavy traffic on our medieval town and to discourage rat-running on the B1438 which separates the town from the riverside. This diversion only underlines why the scheme is needed. The scheme however needs funding.  I would therefore urge SCDC and SCC Highways to work together, using development money earnarked for community benefit, to benefit that community most harmed by these works – ie Woodbridge itself

Sincerely

Caroline Page
County Councillor for Woodbridge

 

Update: I have heard it argued  over the last weeks that because the Secretary of State overturned SCDC’s decision regarding the Bloor development, SCDC can somehow wash their hands of this development. We can only succeed in  persuading  everyone of the value of my argument if all local bodies join forces 

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9 thoughts on “Open Letter: Bloor Development diversion at Woods Lane -a solution”

  1. We are so British. If we were citizens of a nation across the water well known for its “manifestations” we would have a number of the local farmers accidentally leave farm machinery and large deposits of slurry at the entrance to the site pending a solution.

  2. Why can they not build a new sewage plant for the development. The present sewage works is already seriously overworked and surely will not cope with the extra intake anyway and other utilities could be piped in from the back of the site where they already exist.

  3. Caroline is absolutely right to challenge SDCD Planning Dept. and SCC Highways for not informing the local councillors whose area of responsibility links in with the development. I also have a question/solution….”Why can’t the new sewage pipework run under the pavement or one side of the road?” Then at least traffic could continue to use one side of the road with lights controlling the traffic?

  4. Well said Mrs Page, it’s Bloor’s problem not ours. I would echo the right/left hand since the “by-pass” for Woodbridge is a carbuncle that should never have happened. Those that though otherwise probably need to visit “spec-savers”.

  5. I don’t think any of us residents realized to true impact of all those houses, it’s a nightmare! We live in Ipswich Road, as does Caroline, if they divert this way we r going to be even more swamped, 400+ cars an hour come this way, and I won’t even walk down into because of the air pollution. Woodbridge was once a sort after place to live 35yrs we have been here, and the traffic has quadrupled, If the planners r in the min to ruin this lovely town,they r going the right way about it!

  6. Apparently, the reason the Planning Inspectorate overturned SCDCs decision for Woods Lane is because they could not demonstrate a 5 year housing supply. They similarly messed up with the Yoxford – Hopkins Homes Supreme Court case. Somebody at the top of the planning department should be held accountable for this incompetence. If nothing else comes from this let’s hope Waveney’s planners take the lead when the two councils merge.

  7. Well said Caroline. The length of time that the residents of Woodbridge, Melton and beyond will have to pay for Bloor’s profits is absolutely flabbergasting and totally unacceptable! With the other planning disaster on the site of the old Council offices, it seems to me that one or more people in this process have lost the plot (or worse!).

  8. Thank you Caroline, for voicing the concerns of so many local residents who will suffer the repercussions of this ridiculous road closure. What a shame our elected MP Dr Coffey doesn’t feel the need to act in the best interests of her constituents. I hope everyone remembers this in the next election!

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