Gallery idea for Belle Vue wins support

Councillors have decided not to take on Belle Vue House alone, preferring to look into working alongside possible tenants such as art galleries.

An extraordinary meeting was held to finalise Sudbury Town Council’s business plan for the site, which it has a right to buy from Babergh District Council as a community asset under the Localism Act.

Councillors agreed that it would not be viable for the council to take over ownership of the building in its current state but would consider managing the house if suitable tenants were found.

Councillor Oliver Forder informed members that Gainsborough’s House or another organisation may be able to make use of the house.

Speaking after the meeting, Sue Brotherwood, town clerk, said: “There has been some talk that galleries might be interested in having, for example, the upstairs area to display work.

“This would be something rather nice for Sudbury, so we are going to investigate to see whether we could get someone like Gainsborough’s House involved. It would keep it for community purposes and bring in a commercial income.”

Councillors agreed that, if such a use is not viable, they would want Babergh to retain ownership, with any leasing agreement to a third party to include conditions that the building is retained for community use.

Babergh has budgeted £800,000 over two years to rebuild or refurbish Belle Vue House.

If the district council decides to rebuild part of the house, Sudbury Town Council has asked that features, including the facade and stained glass window, be retained and incorporated into a new building.

Other recommendations include a consultation to be run on any work to the house, and that suitable long-term accommodation be found for The Hub youth club and the Citizens Advice Bureau.