Town council steps up bid to run Belle Vue

Sudbury Town Council wants to take on the running of Belle Vue House and will put together a plan for Babergh District Council on Tuesday.

Hotel chain Premier Inn is in talks to buy the nearby BMX park and £800,000 has been set aside in the district council’s budget for repairs or refurbishments.

The issue was discussed by the Sudbury pilot steering group at a meeting on Friday and the town council will hold further talks on Tuesday ahead of submitting a proposal to Babergh, the site’s owner.

Sue Brotherwood, town clerk, said: “The town council has put in a declaration of interest for Belle Vue House and Babergh has to then give us first refusal on it, but what it is looking at is what we could then use it for.

“I said at Friday’s meeting that public toilets are top of the list for Sudbury residents. This meeting is for sorting out what, if it doesn’t stay as offices, would be a good use for it.”

Suggestions for Belle Vue House have included using it as a wedding venue. Mrs Brotherwood warned against keeping the building for community use without ensuring it can pay its way.

“If it is kept as a community hall, Babergh will ask what is it to be used for,” she said.

“You can’t just say it is going to be a public hall without another commitment, rented or whatever, to make sure there is enough money coming in to sustain it.”

Simon Bennett, chairman of the steering group, said: “It needs to have some sort of community use, such as a cafe enhancing the park site.

“The building is so fragmented in terms of its use and its size that, even if it is refurbished, it doesn’t really address what the people of Sudbury want from it.”

Mr Barrett said the Citizens Advice Bureau would have to move out of its current home in Belle Vue House for around 12 months if refurbishment work was carried out, and he did not see the sense in moving it twice.

“It is only in there by default and it is not the best location for it,” he said. “There is no question the CAB will be looked after – we are looking at options for whether it needs to be rehoused.”

He said one possibility was using the area for a cafe with public toilets and a pavilion that could be used for weddings.

Mr Barrett said: “It is public money so why spend more than we need to?”

On Premier Inn’s interest in the site, he added: “We are working up proposals for that. We’re also looking at whether a combined development for the site can be incorporated.”

A surveyor’s report into how much work needs to be carried out is expected to be completed in time for Tuesday’s meeting.