Plans to save an historic building in the centre of Sudbury by creating a community and business hub and a bid open up Belle Vue Park have been revealed.
The Belle Vue Community Bid Team, now known as The Sudbury Community Estate, is one of three shortlisted bids for the Belle Vue development site being sold by Babergh District Council.
The community bid was first launched after plans to sell the site were revealed last year, with Babergh giving the go ahead for the building, which needs a large amount of renovation work, to be demolished.
Theo Bird, a Sudbury resident who set up and is chairing Sudbury Community Estate, said: “The Community Estate firmly believes its bid’s three key themes; preserving Sudbury heritage, improving Sudbury quality of life, and modernising the Sudbury economy, will secure future growth.
“This will enable Sudbury to become a thriving market town in the digital age.”
If successful the scheme would see Belle Vue House saved and renovated, with a new east wing built.
Some of the land being sold would be used for enlargement of the popular park, with “enhanced access” from Belle Vue Junction.
The plans include an open pedestrian access from Belle Vue Junction, making the park visible from the town centre, currently hidden by the closed BMX park site.
Two new buildings which flank Newton Road and Cornard Road would also be built, with one option for it to be used as a doctor’s surgery.
Mr Bird said: “The new development will afford the opportunity to restore and modernise Belle Vue House so that it will serve another century at the heart of Stour Valley Community life.”
He added that The Community Estate’s bid was the only one to continue to offer a home to the South Suffolk Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
The group hopes the open aspect of the park will increase its popularity, improve the entrance into the town for visitors and increase the town’s popularity as a tourist destination.
As well as the CAB, the house will also host a community café that will serve a revamped terrace onto the park.
There are also plans for a multi-media boardroom for up to 30 people that can function as a reception space, additional classroom space for adult education, a small business incubation hub - an area where small businesses and individuals can hire desk space - and toilet facilities.
Subject to affordability, the Community Estate plans to operate a select number of outreach programs including hiring activities officers to promote Sudbury sports and social clubs.
The bid team also hopes to start a scheme to help promote other local community spaces in the Stour Valley Area, such as village halls.
Mr Bird and the team are confident the scheme would provide more than 60 jobs on site – phasing from construction to workers on site following completion.
“Excluding big retailers, the Community Estate estimates the Sudbury retail economy to be worth £16-20million per annum,” said Mr Bird.
“By improving Sudbury as a destination and regenerating the town centre the Community Estate is confident its scheme could grow the local retail economy by eight to 12 per cent.”
He added: “I would like to thank everyone involved in producing our bid which is potentially a huge success for the Sudbury Steering Group Committee, perfectly aligned to Babergh District Council’s corporate priorities.
“We sincerely hope our funded bid is successful.”
A campaign was set up last year to save the building.