Sudbury’s new bus station will be situated in Girling Street if all goes to plan following a decision at this evening’s Sudbury Steering Group meeting (January 15)
Members made the decision after hearing the findings of Suffolk County Council and the opinions of residents who filled Sudbury Town Hall.
To the disappointment of many inside the hall, steering group chairman Simon Barrett made it clear from the beginning there would be no option for the station to remain in its current Hamilton Road location, with the need to clear the area to allow for its regeneration.
The group hopes to redevelop the Hamilton Road Quarter, aiming to attract larger retailers and possibly build a cinema.
Instead members were ask to provide a ‘steer’ from three options.
Option A - a split site option with hubs in Girling Street and Great Eastern Road, Option B - a drive in and reverse out model for Girling Street and Option C - a drive through model, again in Girling Street.
Despite previously being looked on favourably by many members, the split option was discarded due a number of issues including expense, a lack of bus operator support and likely ‘deliverability’ issues.
The split option also received a particularly negative reaction from members of the public at the steering group’s meeting in September.
In the end all members apart from chamber of commerce chairman Chris Storey selected Option C as their preferred option.
“The detail is still to be worked out,” said David Holland, vice chairman of the steering group.
“An enormous amount of work has been done on this and an enormous amount work is still to be done.”
James Finch, cabinet member for highways and transport at Suffolk County Council, added the “steer” would now be sent back to officers at Suffolk County Council, giving them an option to focus on, while looking into some of the issues raised by Mr Storey.
Mr Storey chose Option B as his preferred model, citing concerns over safety due to shared access between buses, lorries and disabled drivers, the proximity of bus shelters to nearby homes and the need for passengers to cross the road in the bus station in Option C.
Work will now go ahead to try to alleviate these issues while continuing to work on Option C.
This option has six bays, all without the need for buses having to reverse. This was a deciding factor in the group’s choice as bus companies had shared their concerns for safety with reversing vehicles, also highlighting an increase in breakdowns when reversing.
Both options include shelters, toilets, real-time digital display and disabled parking bays.
There will also be a pedestrian crossing from the station across Girling Street to the Aldi supermarket.
The exit from the station will be controlled by signal so buses will not have to force their way into oncoming traffic.
Another major concern with all of the options was the loss of parking.
Despite research suggesting parking in the town was only ever at 76 per cent of its capacity, Sudbury mayor Jack Owen said: “I would suggest car parking spaces are full up,
“We will have cars going round and round the town looking for a space.
“I really urge the steering group to look at this issue.”
Suffolk county councillor for Sudbury Colin Spence agreed, asking for this to be looked into.
In a lively meeting there were several impassioned pleas from members of the public and local business owners who expressed a range of concerns.
Members agreed to look into getting a bus stop on Great Eastern Road as a priority to ensure a connection for bus and rail users, one issue raised by residents.
Cobblers and Keys locksmiths recently relocated to the Borehamgate Precinct from Market Hill after the former shop was destroyed in the devastating town centre fire on September 6.
Owner Simon Evans was concerned the removal of the bus station would take trade away from the precinct, especially in the period before any redevelopment had taken place.
But Mr Barrett insisted the move was necessary to improve the town’s “retail offer”, saying ultimately it would bring more visitors to the town.
He said this would boost both small independents and large retailers, pointing to the economic boost in Bury St Edmunds following the redevelopment of the former Cattle Market.
Work will now continue on Option C, to create a detailed proposal, with assessments on noise and air pollution and advice from relevant bodies including the police.
A pre-planning consultation will then be held before any application is submitted.