Charity in the dark over People’s Park

A Sudbury charity hoping to save a meadow from having 100 houses built on it is still waiting to hear the cost of possibly buying it back.

Campaigners keen to stop plans for 100 homes on Harp Close Meadow, also known as People’s Park, will need to raise enough money to buy the land from the West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust, which bought it from Sudbury Common Lands Charity (SCLC) for £850,000 in 1984.

The trust submitted outline plans for the homes on the 15.5 –acre site to Babergh District Council last month.

Philip Richardson, chairman of SCLC, said: “At the present time, we are awaiting an invitation to purchase the land from the NHS trust.

“We have not received any invitation, and no indication has been given in terms of timescale.”

He added that he was unable to give a statement regarding any fundraising efforts or the likely cost of the land.

Jan Osborne, town councillor and supporter of the efforts to keep People’s Park for public use, said last month that they faced a race against time to raise enough money to buy the site, as once it had been given permission for the houses, its value would skyrocket.

Jill Fisher, founder of the People’s Park Preservation Association, said she hoped the land would be offered before planning permission was granted.

“If Sudbury Common Lands Charity chooses not to buy it, there will be nothing we can do,” said Mrs Fisher.

“We have been told there are no funds available for the purchase of the meadow, so we would have to raise the money through grants and donations.”

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said: “We have written to Sudbury Common Land Trust to advise that it will be given first opportunity to purchase the site at market value once we reach the appropriate stage in the planning process. This is in line with Government policy.

“We will contact the trust again in due course.”