A sudden rise in interest in an iconic building in Sudbury under threat of demolition has pleased a local councillor.
Simon Barrett, a district and town councillor, told a meeting of Sudbury Steering Group on Friday that the increasing interest in Belle Vue House was positive.
“What I’m pleased about is that the discussion we have had has opened up the debate,” said Mr Barrett, group chairman.
“There was a feeling that it was a done deal, which is not the case – we are getting some interest, which is good.”
Among the interested parties is Sudbury resident Theo Bird, whose bid to buy the site for a business hub has passed its first test by receiving more than the 21 signatures needed for a community purchase scheme.
This will not afford Mr Bird’s proposal any guarantees, but does buy him time to put together a more detailed proposal.
Local developer Barry Drury has also registered an interest in purchasing the site, revealing his intention to gift it back to the town.
Mr Bird was given a chance to outline his plans at the meeting and was given feedback by members.
Questions were asked of Mr Bird’s plan to use the building as a wedding venue, with parking issues already a problem.
Mr Bird was also reminded that the site does not include the park itself, undermining his initial plans to use additional marquees during the wedding season.
It is unclear yet whether Mr Bird’s application will be accepted by Babergh District Council, but he said he would use the advice of the group to help form a proper business plan.
Steering group member and Sudbury Chamber of Commerce vice-chairman Chris Storey said he felt some of the claims surrounding the building’s historic importance had been exaggerated and said the building was not as pretty from the front or side.
Instead, Mr Storey said there was a real need for more hotels in the town.
This was questioned though by Mr Bird, who asked for quantified evidence of this – a point echoed by steering group member Jack Owen.
“I accept there will be an argument that there is a need for a hotel,” said Mr Owen.
“What I don’t accept entirely is that there are not other more suitable areas to accommodate one.”