People from Sudbury and the surrounding area are being urged to have their say on the future of one of the town’s most-loved buildings.
Plans have been proposed for £1.2million worth of improvements to the interior of St Peter’s in Market Hill, which it is hoped will help maintain its position at the heart of community life in Sudbury.
The plans for the former church include a design for a mezzanine floor viewing gallery an enhanced food service and visitor facilities, including much-needed toilets.
The local charity that looks after the church, the Friends of St Peter’s, has been working with the church’s owners, The Churches Conservation Trust to develop the plans. And now they want the local community to have their say.
Three open days are being held in St Peter’s from Thursday, January 28 to Saturday 30, where visitors will be able to look at the plans and speak to members of the Friends of St Peter’s and Churches Conservation Trust about the proposals.
The organisers want people to tell them what they think about the plans and what they would like to see St Peter’s used for.
Saturday’s open day will be a family day where there will be a range of activities for children.
The feedback from the open days will be used to put together a finished planning application and to attract funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funding organisations.
Peter Gray from the Friends of St Peter’s said: “St Peter’s belongs to Sudbury and we are committed to involving all the people of the town, of all ages and interests, in developing a vision for the future.
“With their input and honest opinions, we will be able to assemble a strong and engaging application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will help us to secure the building’s success for future generations.”
The building was saved in 1972 by campaigners and is used as a community building for concerts, exhibitions and farmers markets, attracting more than 55,000 visitors a year.
However, the lack of toilets means it is unsuitable for many groups, such as parent and toddler groups, in the middle of the week when the church is less popular.
It is also hoped the improvements, including interactive facilities, as well as provision to display the Alderman’s Pall and Jacobean reaching cloth, and resiting of the stained glass window hidden by the organ, would attract more visitors and tourists to the building.
“I think if we improve the visitor experience more people will come in,” said Friends chairman Roger Green
“Quite often we have people come in on coach trips and the have one hour ‘to do’ Sudbury. Of course they go to Gainsborough’s House. But this is so obvious some of them come here.
“I think if they came in and said ‘wow’, they would go back and tell others about it.”