Last chance to influence Belle Vue decision

County councillor John Sayers outside Belle Vue House in the park, the house may be redeveloped to make way for further improvements to the park. ANL-140819-171109009
County councillor John Sayers outside Belle Vue House in the park, the house may be redeveloped to make way for further improvements to the park. ANL-140819-171109009

Sudbury residents will have one last chance on Saturday to say what they would like to happen to Belle Vue Park and to Belle Vue House in the heart of the town.

A consultation display on potential changes, set up by Sudbury Steering Group on behalf of interested parties, has been on show at the Town Hall and at Belle Vue House itself.

On Saturday the display will be open from 12 to 3pm at Belle Vue Park and at the house.

Chairman of the steering group Nigel Bennett and Suffolk County Councillor John Sayers have been listening to the views of Sudbury residents and giving them a chance to put their ideas and opinions down, to be taken back to the group in September.

The park, owned by Babergh District Council, would not see changes to the house’s formal gardens, but money for improvements could be forthcoming from any development of the house.

Currently the house is the home of the town’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau, but it is in a poor state.

Mr Sayers said the park was a “hidden gem” that would benefit from having its profile raised.

Though many of the comments made so far have been centred on changes to the park itself, the consultation is keen to hear people’s opinions on potential redevelopment of the house.

The house, and the adjoining former swimming pool site, could be turned into a restaurant or hotel and Mr Bennett, said any money raised from this would then be earmarked for Sudbury, which could be used to improve the park and its access.

The consultation display includes potential changes to the access and path extensions to make the surrounding road crossings safer.

Mr Bennett admitted some of these would have to wait until a decision was made by Suffolk County Council on any changes to the controversial Belle Vue junction nearby.

Also looked at would be improving the park’s toilet facilities.

One suggestion was that the site could be used for parking, but Mr Bennett said: “People have got to understand that if you chose one option other things can’t happen.

“If we put in parking then we won’t be able to realise lots of other things.”

This would be because no money would be made available from the redevelopment, a similar problem if the house was kept.

Both Mr Bennett and Mr Sayers were not against new developments, but agreed it was important that any new development was in keeping with the park itself.

“Whatever happens, the most important thing is good design of any new building,” said Mr Bennett.

Mr Sayers said: “From my point of view, we have been pulling buildings down in the town right, left and centre.”

But, he said, the house had been offered to community groups and organisations during the past couple of years without interest, because of the state it was in and the vast cost of repairing it.

“There wasn’t any interest and, to be honest, I don’t think there will be,” he said.

As well as the final consultation event in the park, the display will be open to be viewed in the town hall until the end of the month.

So far suggestions made include:

l Concrete ramps for the skate park and an increase in the number of ramps.

l Opening up the formal gardens to be seen from the rest of the park.

l A bandstand for outdoor concerts and community events.

l ‘Edible’ education gardens.

l Another tennis court.

l Extension of the formal gardens with more seating areas added.

“We’ve got a fantastic park and people love it,” Mr Bennett said.

“This is about enhancing it further.

“We are trying to bring everyone together to try to find common ground.”