Sudbury Steering Group to be reviewed following bus station decision

David Holland, Simon Barrett and Ray Smith in front of Girling Street car park ANL-160830-170233009
David Holland, Simon Barrett and Ray Smith in front of Girling Street car park ANL-160830-170233009
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The role of Sudbury Steering Group will be reviewed following the decision to withdraw plans to build a new bus station in Girling Street.

Chairman Simon Barrett said Suffolk County Council was right to postpone the application for a new station on the car park site and added the group, which chose Girling Street as its preferred option, would be reviewed in the new year.

“I think it’s very sensible for county to pull this,” he said. “There is no rush in this. Let’s get it right. If there is something we’ve missed then let’s work on it. If something else is the best solution then we will look at it.”

Mr Barrett defended the steering group’s participation in the process, saying he felt members of the public had got confused about the steering group’s role in the Girling Street plan.

Mr Barrett said: “The steering group was tasked to come up with the best option put forward by the consultants hired by Suffolk County Council.

“These were deliverable options and we chose from them. We have got no axe to grind, we just can’t leave it where it is.”

An application by Suffolk County Council was withdrawn after nearly 100 people sent in their objections to the plans during the council’s public consultation.

More than 6,000 people had already signed a petition against the move and Sudbury Town Council’s planning committee had recommended the application for refusal.

The move would have seen the loss of 72 car parking spaces, while other criticism included the distance from the station and impact on traffic in Girling Street and across the town.

The removal of the bus station was brought forward by Babergh District Council to allow for the redevelopment of the area, with the council repeatedly insisting they had been told by potential developers and retailers that scheme was not possible if the station remained on the current site.

Asked whether Girling Street was still the primary choice despite the initial plan being dropped, Mr Barrett said: “We have to go back and look at it again. It could be that is still the best in terms of deliverability.

“But we want to take the community with us. We are not doing this against the community.

“We have got to see what comes forward. We have got to keep an open mind. None of us are wedded to any particular project.

“We just wanted to do the best for the town. That was the best option put forward to us.”

“If something else comes in front of us we will look at it. At the moment there is nothing coming forward we haven’t discussed before.

“Clearly we have to take note of people’s views. What I feel slightly disappointed is that people haven’t necessarily looked at all the evidence.”

He noted the repeated calls for the Kingfisher Leisure Centre car park to be used, despite previous evidence suggesting this idea was unworkable because of expense, distance from the town centre, dangers for pedestrians if the junction was turned into a roundabout, oppositions from nearby businesses, as well as similar problems of loss of parking as would happen in Girling Street.

Mr Barrett said the county would go back to Babergh and to the town council for feedback but was unsure whether the steering group would again be involved in the station plans, saying the group’s role would be reviewed in the new year.

“The purpose was to get opinions from different groups representing Sudbury. Not just about the bus station. So I think the steering group will probably be involved. I don’t know, that’s for Babergh [to decide].

“The purpose of the steering group was that Babergh felt that they wanted to engage the people of Sudbury.

“The idea hopefully was to bring these parties together and to get a consensus.”

The bodies represented include The Sudbury Society, Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, The Sudbury Market Town Partnership, Gainsborough’s House and the three local authorities, Sudbury Town, Babergh District and Suffolk County Council.

“The district council doesn’t need a steering group. If the purpose was to get people involved then maybe it needs to be reviewed.

“There is a meeting in February. It is not for me [to decide] I just chair it. It needs to be discussed.”