Plans for Sudbury’s bus station to be split over two sites could be the key to unlocking the town’s redevelopment potential, it has been suggested.
Members of the Sudbury Steering Group agreed on the preferred option for the town’s bus station at a meeting on Friday evening, after selecting from seven possibilities created by Suffolk County Council.
The proposal will see the bus station split over two sites, with stops at both Great Eastern Road and Girling Street, meaning the removal of the car park currently located there.
The split plan would allow for extensive regeneration of the Hamilton Road Quarter, with a cinema complex high on the agenda for many.
Lindsay Barker, director at Babergh District Council, said the chosen station design would allow the redevelopment of the whole area to come forward.
At the meeting she said that developers and investors were not satisfied with the current station layout.
“Without the opportunity to move the bus station the scheme isn’t viable,” she said.
Mrs Barker added that although there was no available time frame for the works, the bus station would not necessarily be started before the rest of the quarter, but added it was vital that the plans for the station were in place to start with.
David Holland, the group’s new vice-chairman, told the Free Press after the meeting that the two-stop solution would also be beneficial as some routes would be able to entirely avoid the congestion of the town centre’s one-way system.
There has been some criticism at the plans from residents, including questions over why the public were not asked to give their opinions on the seven proposals.
On the Free Press Facebook page Gill Fox wrote: “Surely with a number of options it would be a good idea if all bus users/passengers could be given a questionnaire with regards to their thoughts on where a bus station should be?”
Liam Horking agreed, writing: “So an unelected group with no resident input decides on an option with no consultation or consideration for views from the residents who live and work in the town.
“If there are seven options let the people decide rather than a bunch of individuals with limited insight to this side of town and probably haven’t got on a bus for years.”
In defence chairman Simon Barrett said the steering group was not undemocratic, explaining most of the members were elected on to the bodies they were representing, including the town, district and county councils.
He added that a number of bus companies had been consulted on the plans, saying the preferred option brought a number of benefits to both providers and users.
“It’s not as if it’s being moved onto a site away from the town centre,” he said. “For users it will only be a benefit.”
The group had decided against a number of options that would have taken the station away from the town centre that were described as “unacceptable”. There is expected to be a two week public exhibition in Sudbury in July, showing the seven different options and how the plans will allow for the area’s regeneration.