Bus station move could signal green light for Sudbury cinema project

The current Sudbury bus station in Hamiton Road

The current Sudbury bus station in Hamiton Road - Credit: Archant

Sudbury’s run down bus station could be bulldozed and replaced with a series of bus stops at two separate locations in the town, it has been revealed.

The scheme would enable the land currently occupied by the bus station on Hamilton Road to be redeveloped as part of a major regeneration project, including a new cinema.

The current station has been described by many as an “eyesore at a main gateway to the town”. The new proposal would instead see three ‘pull-ins’ with shelters created on Great Eastern Road and three in Girling Street.

This would enable Babergh District Council to forge ahead with the redevelopment of the Hamilton Road Quarter bringing investment opportunities and a much needed boost to the local economy.

At a meeting on Friday night, Sudbury Steering Group chose the bus station proposal out of seven options put forward by county council highways officers.

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Although some bus users have already complained that they were not consulted about the plans, steering group chairman Simon Barrett said the only impact on passengers would be a positive one.

“It won’t affect anything for bus users because the access points will remain the same and it will in fact be better because the Girling Street stops will be closer to the town centre. Having two locations will also give people more flexibility.

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“We consulted with the bus operators who all think the system is better, and it could help to ease congestion because they won’t have to go through the town centre for all of the pick ups.”

According to Mr Barrett, the major gain for the town by moving the bus station is that the long overdue regeneration of Hamilton Road - which has been on the cards for more than a decade - can finally begin.

He added: “One of the main problems is that the bus station takes up too much space and has meant that we couldn’t use Hamilton Road for redevelopment, which in the past has led developers and investors to say it isn’t a viable project.

“This decision will allow us to have the whole of the existing bus station as part of the redevelopment scheme and that makes it viable, which is the key.”

The steering group will now carry out a feasibility study to ascertain what could be included in the regeneration scheme, and Mr Barrett said a cinema would be a “high priority”.

He added: “Lots of people have asked for it and if we can entice a cinema operator to be part of the scheme, that will attract the associated food and drink retailers. We visualise that it could be a two or three screen cinema like the Abbeygate Cinema in Bury.”

Chris Storey, chairman of Sudbury Chamber of Commerce described the bus station proposal as “sensible and well thought out” but remained cautious. He said: “How these bus stops are laid out and presented will determine the frontage to two prominent streets and if the proposals come forward, they need to be as well planned as possible to maximise the appeal of the town.

“It is a complicated proposal because it involves split locations but if it enables the regeneration of Hamilton Road area and brings forward things that are beneficial to the town, that can only be a positive step in the right direction.”

Although there will be no formal public consultation over the bus station move, an engagement exercise and exhibition will be held early July 2015 giving local people a chance to view the plans along with concept aims for the Hamilton Road Quarter.

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