Girling Street bus station a ‘non-starter’

Draft plans for Sudbury bus station two be split over two sites. ANL-150906-143233001
Draft plans for Sudbury bus station two be split over two sites. ANL-150906-143233001

A former bus company owner has criticised plans for Sudbury bus station ahead of a meeting to discuss the two-hub proposal and feedback from a recent exhibition.

Plans for the current bus station in the town centre to be scrapped and to be replaced with two hubs in Girling Street and Great Eastern Road were exhibited in July, with feedback to be discussed at tomorrow’s Sudbury Steering Group meeting.

The group chose the plan as its preferred option from a list of seven, drawn up by Suffolk County Council, deciding that it was vital the current station area was cleared to allow for redevelopment of the Hamilton Road Quarter.

Ahead of the meeting Owen Whitehand, who used to own Anglia Bus Company as well as Whitehand haulage firm, has criticised the plans, claiming a two-hub system is not favourable for bus companies or users.

The 70-year-old from Nelson Road, Sudbury, said he did not think the plan to use some of Girling Street car park would work.

“I did a quick risk assessment of the Girling Street carpark site and I would suggest this is a non-starter unless all the site is used,” he said.

He explained the need for the passenger island to be on the left, because of the location of bus doors, and the proximity to Girling Street, would increase the amount of space required.

Now retired, he added that he did not think bus drivers and companies would be happy with the split hub plans, suggesting it would be a disadvantage to disabled users.

David Holland, vice-chairman of the steering group, said bus companies had been consulted and were happy with the idea, adding that work was being to done ascertain how much of the car park would be needed, with plans to replace any lost spaces.

He said that some passengers having to walk between stations was likely, but this would be kept to a minimum.

“It’s like in medicine, you can’t have these things without having some side effects.”

Mr Holland said the bus station was being looked at alongside the future development and growth of the town as a whole, the steering group having to assess the affects any changes could have on a wide variety of groups in the town.

“We have to work out how we get the greatest benefit for most of the decisions for most of the people.

“We accept it will probably be great for most people but not so great for a small number of people.”

He added that while option four - for a station to be put in the Kingfisher Leisure centre car park - had been popular and would again be looked at, this was over 400 metres from the town centre.

“The work carried out suggests the number affected [by the split-hub site] will be very small. It’s a small percentage walking 400m for a transfer, rather than everybody having to walk more than 400m to the town centre.”

Despite this and the upcoming meeting on Friday, Mr Whitehand was pessimistic about change taking place, believing the bus station would stay where it was, something the steering group, along with Babergh and Suffolk County Council feel is not acceptable.

The meeting takes place tomorrow in the Mayor’s Parlour, Sudbury Town Hall, from 4pm.