Could destruction lead to new town icons?

DEVASTATION: The ruin left by the fire in Market Hill, Sudbury.
DEVASTATION: The ruin left by the fire in Market Hill, Sudbury.

It has been suggested that Grade II-listed buildings in Sudbury destroyed by fire should be replaced with something as iconic as the town’s library.

Lorna Hoey, chair of The Sudbury Society, has questioned whether the buildings destroyed by the huge fire in Market Hill on September 6, should simply be rebuilt or whether the tragedy could be used as an opportunity to build an iconic and exciting replacement.

Fortunately there were no fatalities, but twenty people were made homeless and several shops were forced to close by the fire which ripped through homes and businesses.

Mrs Hoey said: “Now, while our immediate concerns must lie with those who have lost their homes and businesses, we in The Sudbury Society must also look to the future and the process of conservation and re-building.

“The centre of town contains many different styles of architecture and it will be a challenge to provide a building ‘in keeping’ to fit into the gap.

“But did the designer of the Corn Exchange [now the library] think about being in keeping with the rest of the Market Hill? Could this be, perhaps, a wonderful opportunity to design a building which becomes an icon in itself?”

She warned that any design would have to be carefully considered, not wanting to see “another Borehamgate Precinct”.

“Should we not have confidence in a solution of our time to add to our rich heritage developed over the centuries?”, she said.

“Surely an approach which would incorporate the now-vanished skyline with a sensitively-designed replacement is possible.”

Mrs Hoey said the Society, which is also campaigning to save Belle Vue House from destruction, would be willing to work with conservation officers to “ensure the right outcome for this vitally important project”.

The fire has affected a number of businesses, though most have found alternative bases or are continuing to trade in some form or another.

Independent fashion retailer Javelin was forced to shut, with the building closed off - deemed unsafe because of damage to the roof.

The business is being run from the company’s second shop, usually used as the discount store.

Owner of Javelin, Jeremy Clayton, supported Mrs Hoey’s views on creating an icon for the town.

“I totally agree, I think getting the design right will be critical,” he said.

“If something different and new and iconic can be found with the right design then it will really enhance that end of the town.”

Babergh District Council has stated that as many original materials as possible are being saved during works at the fire site.

Some of the properties lost were timber-framed buildings from the Georgian period.