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Sudbury Town Council reveals ambitious plans to ignite town's prosperity

By Priya Kingsley-Adam

View of Market Hill in Sudbury. PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (4481319)
View of Market Hill in Sudbury. PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (4481319)

Residents’ views are being sought on bold plans to revitalise Sudbury and transform the area into a vibrant town.

The proposals are part of Ambitions for Sudbury Town Centre – a document setting out plans to redevelop the area and improve prosperity.

Sudbury Town Council is seeking public opinion on its new vision, with the aim of securing long-term financial stability, while maximising the town’s potential.

In a statement, the town council outlined continuing pressures that are threatening high street businesses.

“Its continued prosperity is important, both for the social benefit of the community and the economic wellbeing of the town,” it said.

“In common with many other town centres, however, its vibrancy is under threat.

“Increased shopping on the internet – combined with high business rates – have led to shop closures and a potential reduction in footfall.”

The proposals follow Babergh District Council’s Vision for Prosperity – a document revealed last year, with key priorities on how Sudbury should develop over the next two decades.

Town council clerk Jacqueline Howells, pictured, said it was a “very exciting time” for the town.

“People in Sudbury have waited many years for things to happen and, after years of promises and discussions, I feel certain that things are about to materialise.”

Plans on the future of Belle Vue House – a historical Victorian building which has proved controversial in the past – were discussed by Babergh District’s full council this week, with details yet to be revealed due to commercial sensitivity.

As part of the plans, the future of Belle Vue House, which is located in Belle Vue Park, is set to be reviewed.

The preferred option outlined in the document by Sudbury Town Council is that the building should be retained.

Babergh District Council, which owns the site, was heavily criticised over talks of selling the property to private developers a few years ago.

Simon Barrett, a town and district councillor, who has been instrumental in crafting the document, said renovating the site into residential housing was an option, but the financial aspect would have to be considered.

“The trouble is it’s the price of renovating an old building – it’s much higher than knocking it down,” he said.

Mr Barrett explained the failure of the site being granted as a listed building by Historic England had not supported its cause.

“Personally, I don’t have a problem with the house being knocked down; it has no architectural significance, otherwise it would be listed,” he said.

Mr Barrett praised plans to develop a hotel on the site, which he said would provide a wider choice for visitors.

“The Mill Hotel is a medium-priced hotel, but we don’t have a budget hotel, so they would compliment each other,” he said.

Concerns over the scale of the developments at Belle Vue Park have come under fire from Luke Cresswell.

“Babergh District Council almost had people fooled into thinking the park was safe and the development may be worth supporting,” he said.

“When the town realises just how much of our park the Tories will be giving away, the cabinet will have a fight on their hands – and I will be leading that fight.

“I do believe the town needs investment and I’m not necessarily against the specific development in mind, but not at any cost and certainly not at the cost of our park.

“Belle Vue Park has been neglected by the district council for years. It was once the pride of our town and this council has let the park and the people of Sudbury down.”

Mr Barrett gave assurances that no green space would be impacted by the developments.

As part of the proposals, the Hamilton Road quarter will be developed into a culture and leisure complex – the blueprint for which has already been granted approval – with the bus station set to be replaced with two new bus lay-bys within the town.

“The first thing you see when you come into the town is an eye sore,” said Mr Barrett, who is in favour of the plans. A lot of towns don’t have bus stations – they are things of the past.”

A multi-screen cinema complex has been proposed on the site, along with retail shops, restaurants, homes and offices, which Mr Barrett said would help to attract more visitors to the town.


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