Flats at nightclub given council backing

Easterns Station Lounge club in Sudbury
Easterns Station Lounge club in Sudbury

Sudbury Town Council has given its backing for plans for 15 residential flats in the former Easterns Station Lounge night club.

The plans for the nightclub which closed in 2013 were rejected by the town council in February but have been altered since and this time town council planning committee chairman Jan Osborne was delighted to see the plans recommended, citing the desperate need for affordable one and two-bedroom properties in the town.

Babergh District Council’s planning committee will still need to decide on the application but Mrs Osborne said the town council’s recommendation could play a major part in the derelict building finally finding use.

After the decision in February Mrs Osborne said: “It’s a shame and very disappointing because Sudbury badly needs more one and two bedroom accommodation.

“The applicant was suggesting parking be provided at the Kingfisher and Roys car parks, but the committee felt they couldn’t approve the application because there is no parking on site. It was very reluctantly turned down.”

This time there are plans to include up to three spaces in Francis Road.

There are currently two permits available from the town council in the street.

Other residents could use the previously named town centre car parks, but the committee felt that the benefits of affordable housing would outweigh the negative impact of a lack of parking at he building on the junction of Station Road and Great Eastern Road.

Mrs Osborne said the town council could make a recommendation that the flats were offered on affordable rents - 80 per cent of the market value.

Fellow member Adrian Osborne said: “I think we have got a situation again where the need outweighs harm and if you can get even the minimum of parking spaces that will help.”

Luke Cresswell added: “It is never going to be a nightclub again. Either accept it’s going to be housing or it could remain in the state it is in. We certainly need affordable housing. Accept it or see it remain derelict for another 10 years.”

Mrs Osborne added: “Ask someone who wanted affordable housing ‘would you rather have a roof over your head or a parking space?’ I know what I would decide.”

Mr Cresswell added that not all residents would need cars due to the proximity to public transport and its town centre location.

The plans were given unanimous approval by members.

n Also given approval were alterations to plans to develop the former Walnuttree Hospital site, which includes the retention of the Victorian hospital building. Already approved are plans for 42 residential units as well as seven town houses.

The developers have applied to add three more units and three more townhouses.

Members were split on this with concerns of loss of open space from John Sayers and criticism that previously developers had not included any affordable housing in the scheme citing financial viability concerns.

The alteration received three votes in favour and three against, with chairman Mrs Osborne using her casting vote to recommend approval of the changes when it goes to Babergh.

Nigel Bennett explained that with this plan there is a claw back clause stating that if the site was financially viable monies could be claimed back and used to fund affordable homes projects in the town.

He added that any additional homes on the site would only increase the viability of the project and make it more likely that the clause could be used.

n Outline planning permission for homes to replace St Gregory’s Church Hall in Prince Street was recommended by the town council’s planning committee.

The plans show up to four two-storey properties being built, but not showing how many bedrooms would be included.

Current designs show these as terraced properties but full design details would not be included until a full application was placed.

The main concern from councillors again surrounded the potential lack of parking spaces, but members voted unanimously in favour.

Currently the plans include four parking spaces, which would only fulfil county requirements for one-bedroom properties, but Mrs Osborne explained this was flexible when homes were situated in the town centre.

Members praised the properties’ design and were pleased to see all organisation’s using the hall had found new bases within Sudbury.

“I believe that site is due to be developed at some point,” said Mr Sayers. “The hall isn’t a handsome building and this is as good as any design coming our way.”