No approach to land owner over cinema

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A Sudbury man who owns wasteland close to the town’s bus station says he has been left in the dark over plans to redevelop the area.

Ray Byford, who recently retired as managing director of A and B Glass in Addison Road, owns the 0.6-acre piece of land that has stood unused for more than a decade.

The Free Press revealed in June that Babergh District Council was in talks with Curzon Cinemas over plans to develop the bus station and Hamilton Road area of Sudbury, with councillor Simon Barrett saying at the time that the scheme could be complete within 18 months.

But Mr Byford, 63, said: “Babergh District Council has not approached me, I have not heard anything.

“In September, the council spoke to my son and had a meeting but since then I have heard nothing.”

Around four years ago, Mr Byford discussed the possibility of building a £7million multi-use development, including a cinema, hotel, car park and shops on the site.

He said it was “shot down in flames” by council officers, while the council said in March last year that more development options needed to be investigated and guidance on ways to create a mix of retail and leisure needed to be sought, although discussions with landowners would continue.

“I am not interested in that project anymore,” said Mr Byford. “The council will have to make me an offer.”

He said he would not accept anything less than £750,000 for the plot, which has had £60,000 spent on cleaning and contamination reports.

Mr Byford also criticised the council over the way it had publicised negotiations over the land.

“When there is an issue like this, the council puts a little bit in the paper to keep people happy, and keeps doing that every few months and eventually four or five years later it will get what it wants,” he said.

“I know this from 50 years of building experience around here.”

A spokeswoman for Babergh District Council said that, due to the commercially sensitive nature of the discussions, she could not comment on Mr Byford’s claims.