Hadleigh residents are battling to save one of the town’s iconic buildings – and have unveiled plans to buy it for community use.
East House, a listed Georgian building in George Street, is the subject of a campaign by a group of residents called Open East House.
Another campaign group – Save Cox’s Park – is fighting to keep the building’s grounds as public open space.
On Friday, fresh plans by Babergh District Council, which owns the site, went on show at an exhibition at the town’s leisure centre.
Annemarie Goode, from Open East House, said: “It’s a lovely building, but it’s been empty for seven years.
“We’re investigating whether we can buy the house from Babergh at a discount, because we want to keep it open for the community.”
Mrs Goodge, from Aldham Road, whose first job was in East House with social services, added: “It’s held in great affection by the people of Hadleigh.
“Some suggestions for its use include a theatre, for playgroups, for the elderly, for social services and a citizens advice bureau.”
Former town councillor Trevor Clarke, who is behind the Open East House campaign, said: “We have had an informal discussion with council officers about nominating East House as an asset of community value.
“If granted, this would trigger a six-month embargo on its sale to give us time to come up with an alternative plan.”
Grants are available to community groups for renovation and feasibility studies, he said, and he urged Babergh to hold off seeking planning permission for six months.
Jonas Grist, from Save Cox’s Park campaign, said new plans by Babergh for the house and grounds were “imaginative” but did not address the issue of the lack of public open space.