MP hopes for ‘swift’ decision on West Suffolk Operational Hub

An image of how the West Suffolk Operation Hub could look
An image of how the West Suffolk Operation Hub could look

An MP has called for a swift decision on controversial plans for a West Suffolk Operational Hub, ahead of a council vote next week.

Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, is not allowed to influence local planning matters, however this week said she had been listening to residents’ concerns ahead of Thursday’s meeting to decide the issue.

Joint applicants Suffolk County Council and the West Suffolk councils want to combine a waste transfer station, household waste recycling centre and fleet depot on a single site north of Hollow Road Farm, in Fornham St Martin.

Last month, councillors decided to delay their decision in order to take residents’ concerns into account and look for solutions to specific issues that had already been raised.

The plans have been unpopular with many residents and the parish councils of Fornham St Martin cum St Genevieve, Fornham All Saints and Great Barton.

Departure from the council’s own planning policy, loss of agricultural land, increased traffic congestion and highways safety are among the main concerns.

Mrs Churchill said she had met residents, businesses and parish council chairs throughout the past two-and-a-half years of discussions about the proposal.

“A waste hub is required and its location, wherever it is, is likely to be contentious,” she said this week, adding she was ‘keen a decision should be arrived at swiftly’.

“As residents may be aware, it is outside the remit of a Member of Parliament to preside over or influence matters of local planning. It is my role to communicate the concerns of residents to the relevant authorities and to ensure due process is followed. To that end I have alerted the Secretary of State to his ability to call in this proposal, should he be minded to,” she said.

“I will, of course, remain vigilant to the concerns of residents and ensure that the decision-making process under which these plans sit is fair and proportionate.”

A special meeting of the Development Control Committee to decide the proposal will be held at West Suffolk House on September 21 at 10am, while committee members are set to visit the site on Monday.