New bid to use Sudbury’s Belle Vue House as business hub

The council is to discuss the future of Belle Vue House in Sudbury.

The council is to discuss the future of Belle Vue House in Sudbury. - Credit: Archant

A campaigner is hoping to save a historic council-owned property in a Sudbury park and turn it into a business hub with function rooms.

West Suffolk businessman Barry Drury recently offered to pay £750,000 for Belle Vue House to prevent it from being bulldozed and replaced with a hotel.

And now local entrepreneur, Theo Bird, wants to secure the property under the ‘community right to bid’ legislation using Mr Drury’s money.

An extensive consultation about the planned regeneration of Belle Vue Park and house failed to yield any workable ideas for retaining the 18th Century property in its current form.

Babergh District Council’s argument is that a “sustainable use” must be found for the property rather than simply purchasing and saving it for the town.

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The authority is looking to regenerate the whole area including the park and former outdoor swimming pool. Four different hotel groups have expressed an interest in building on the site, which is the council’s preferred option because of the possible economic benefits. It is believed a hotel on the site could create up to 65 jobs.

But Mr Bird believes building a budget hotel there could detract from current trade at Sudbury’s hotels.

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He said: “The impact on existing trade by adding a further hotel to the mix will not increase trade but simply dilute it whereby the business case becomes questionable and the willingness to offer decent employment deteriorates.”

Instead he would like to see the property used as a “four star business embassy” which would operate as a club for businesses during the week and a function room at weekends.

Mr Bird continued: “This is a growing market for Sudbury due to its proximity to London.”

Last night, Sudbury steering group chairman Simon Barrett, said so far Mr Bird had contacted the council with “an idea”.

He added: “The public right to bid has to go through the town council, which has already made its position clear.

“Sudbury has lost two hotels (The Tarantella and the Four Swans) so there is a demand for extra rooms and this has all been researched thoroughly by the steering group. We have had no formal bid from Mr Drury – he has only expressed an interest.

“We are perfectly happy if someone comes forward with a well structured sustainable bid but as yet, we have not seen anything that is a solid proposal that can be seriously considered.”

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