Belle Vue House could be torn down for hotel

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

Belle Vue House in Sudbury is likely to be pulled down to make way for a hotel as negotiations over the sale of the site intensify.

Councillors admitted this week that it is unlikely the building will be kept if advanced negotiations with a commercial company – widely thought to be hotel chain Premier Inn – are successful.

Simon Barrett, lead member for economic development at Babergh District Council, said that, following negotiations with commercial parties, it was clear that the cost of refurbishing the house would make keeping the building unviable.

Mr Barrett said he would prefer for the house to be retained but said no credible offers had been received.

Local property developer Barry Drury had made an offer to buy the site and allow the town to decide what was done with it, but Mr Barrett said he had yet to come forward with an actual scheme.

“We can’t just leave it as it is,” said Mr Barrett.

Mr Drury described the decision to knock the house down as “terrible” and said the council had never shown any interest in his offer or responded to his letters and emails.

Mr Barrett confirmed that Babergh’s strategy committee had voted that the house could be disposed of.

“The problem we have got is that it’s not suitable for what people want,” said Mr Barrett.

“The Citizens Advice Bureau is in there at the moment but only because it hasn’t got anywhere else to go – it’s not suitable for a commercial unit.”

Former Sudbury mayor Nick Irwin said any plans to knock the site down were an “absolute disgrace”.

Mr Irwin, whose son Michael led a march against the site being sold to developers six years ago, said: “At the time, there were quite strong feelings about it.

“I feel apathy is one of the strongest feelings in the town. I, for one, feel let down by our representatives.”

Mr Irwin said there was a sense of helplessness gleaned from previous decisions affecting the town.

He feels Sudbury is lagging behind others, such as Hadleigh and Bury St Edmunds, and therefore said every effort should be made to retain town assets.

Mr Barrett said this was one of the key reasons behind the sale, saying that money gained from the deal will be ring-fenced for use within Sudbury.

The BMX park on the old swimming pool site will be lost as part of the sale, but a new purpose-built site, along with other changes to the park, such as improved access, could be made with the money.

Mr Irwin, however, questioned if this would actually be the case.

“I don’t think the money will be there for the people of Sudbury,” he added.