Babergh District Council leader seeks to quell concerns on proposed development at Belle Vue Park in Sudbury
The leader of Babergh District Council has sought to quell concerns over plans to convert part of a park in Sudbury into a hotel, claiming any development will only serve to benefit the town.
The ambition to see a hotel built on a portion of land in Belle Vue Park has been outlined in the district council’s Vision for Prosperity – a blueprint setting out the future development for Sudbury and the wider area.
“It’s time residents’ minds were put at rest,” said John Ward. “There will be no net loss of amenities at Belle Vue Park – only gain.
“Belle Vue House and the vast majority of the green areas of the park are unaffected by the scheme, which is mainly on derelict land where the old swimming pool was sited.”
Cllr Ward’s comments come after opposition councillors Luke Cresswell and John Nunn raised concerns over the idea, with the pair spearheading an upcoming rally against any development on the green space.
“Clearly, we cannot trust the leader to be honest,” said Cllr Cresswell, who has accused the authority of withholding key information. “It is perhaps worse than first thought; our park, including some green space, is under threat.
“The council are on the backfoot and we have forced them to discuss the proposal more than they would have liked, but they’re still avoiding the tough questions. “They didn’t want to release anymore information but were forced to by opposition pressure.
“It’s now time they came clean. They may find they gain support, but people will continue to be sceptical if they remain secretive.”
Cllr Cresswell added: “I look forward to the rally at the park and hope for a good turnout, which will send a clear ‘hands off’ message to the council.”
Cllr Cresswell has set out his ongoing concerns over the scale of the development, and has called for the names of the cabinet members, who agreed a comprehensive proposal into the plans, to be identified.
“The fact remains that we have no guarantees of any improvement on the road infrastructure, no business plan has been produced, no consultation with the public has taken place and residents have a right to know who voted for this before the election in May,” he said.
“It was a recorded vote, but certain members do not want it to be made public as it would cause them embarrassment.”
Cllr Cresswell expressed his disapproval over the funding model for the development, which he believes should be met by a private company, not the council.
“I still believe taxpayers’ money should not be gambled with in this way,” he said. “Let the company take the risk with its own money.”
Further details of the proposal have since been published on the council’s website, which sets out where the development will be located.
An in-depth report is currently being prepared by the council, with a view to submitting a planning application later this year.
A full consultation will also take place, where the public will be encouraged to have their say.
Cllr Ward has reasserted the council’s objectives in improving the amenities for the town.
“We stand by our previous commitment that any redevelopment of this site must secure the best possible outcome for Sudbury and the district as whole,” he said.
“This means helping the local economy grow; supporting tourism, providing jobs for local people; and maintaining Belle Vue Park as a green, open space with fit-for-purpose facilities for the whole community.”
A series of public engagement events have previously been held in the town to ascertain public opinion on the early stages of the plans and obtain feedback on how the green space benefits residents.
“We’ve been working with the community here in Sudbury for a long time to be sure we understand what is needed, what is used and what residents want in Belle Vue Park,” saidJan Osborne, a town and district councillor.
“Any future development must be for the good of Sudbury by regenerating the park, delivering jobs and supporting tourism, as well as retaining green space for use by the whole community.”
As part of efforts to regenerate the green space in Belle Vue Park, work has been carried out on a new skatepark facility, which is nearing completion.
A new multi-games area has since been built, with plans to have a joint official opening of the facilities once the skatepark is complete.
“Belle Vue Park is very much cherished among the community and we wish to ensure that youngsters today will have the same feeling towards it in years to come,” said Margaret Maybury, pictured below, cabinet member for communities.
“The skatepark design has been specifically tailored to our young people’s requests and I am delighted that they have come forward to discuss their thoughts with us.”
Proposals on the future development of Belle Vue Park were discussed at Sudbury’s annual town council meeting yesterday, which was attended by Cllr Ward.
More by this authorPriya Kingsley-Adam