Sudbury: Building’s future is back in the melting pot

Town Clerk, Sue Brotherwood, outside Belle Vue House in Sudbury

Town Clerk, Sue Brotherwood, outside Belle Vue House in Sudbury - Credit: Archant

THE future of one of Sudburys landmark historic buildings is back on local council agendas.

Town councillors are due to visit the Babergh-owned Belle Vue House this afternoon (Thursday) before submitting suggestions for possible uses for the building to the district authority.

The house, which was originally built in the 1780s by Nathaniel Burrough - a retired grocer related to the family of Thomas Gainsborough - is a prominent feature of the town’s Belle Vue Park.

Last May, a Babergh spokesman confirmed the authority was interested in the disposal of Belle Vue House, excluding the garden and the adjacent disused swimming pool site, for “some form of development”. The council is currently in talks with a major hotel chain over the swimming pool site and it has pledged to do its best to protect the interests of existing Belle Vue House tenants, including the Citizens Advice Bureau.

No time limits or financial targets were set, but Babergh has now indicated that it wants to move on the redevelopment, which could involve the refurbishment or retention of part of the current house, or a new building on the plot.

At a Sudbury leisure and environment meeting on Tuesday, committee members put forward ideas for the house and suggested the public could also write in with their views. The mayor, Jack Owen said: “This is a much-loved building and we are looking at how the community can benefit from Belle Vue House if it is refurbished. I think it has great potential and we could redevelop the cafe in the area that faces the park. If we get enough enthusiasm, it could even be turned into a wedding venue. I think we have to think outside the box and be progressive with what we could do.”

Mr Owen, who criticised Babergh for allowing the house to deteriorate, wants a community sprited local surveyor to donate their services to assess the property’s suitability for various projects.

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Committee member Peter Gray believes Belle Vue House should become a general community hub and drop in centre, while his colleague John Sayers, who has long campaigned to save the building from the bulldozers, wants to see The Hub youth centre brought into the main building, which has been added to the council’s list of the heritage assets it wants to preserve.

Committee chair Lesley Ford Platt expressed concerns about the town council taking responsibility for any venture at the venue. She added: “We need to work our ideas into a business plan and anything we come up with must be cost neutral to the town council and meet a need. There’s no way we can take on another white elephant.”

Yesterday, (Wednesday) Sudbury town clerk Sue Brotherwood agreed that any plans for Belle Vue House must be economically viable and sustainable. She added: “The town council is keen to retain the building for community use in some form.”

Sudbury Steering Group chair Simon Barrett said Babergh was looking at a range of uses for Belle Vue House including complete refurbishment, and knocking it down and rebuilding from scratch. “We have a clean sheet and will be happy to hear the town council’s views.” he added.