Sudbury: Hotel and leisure chains set their sights on Belle Vue House as council look set to ‘dispose’ of it

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 historic house in an award winning west Suffolk park could be bulldozed to make way for a hotel or pub after the community failed to come up with any feasible alternatives.

Results of an extensive consultation about the planned regeneration of Sudbury’s Belle Vue Park have just been revealed by owners Babergh District Council.

Despite a big percentage of respondents saying they would like to keep Belle Vue House – which was originally built in the 1780s and has links with the Gainsborough family – no sustainable ideas were submitted for the retaining the property in its current form.

According to Babergh’s economic development officer, Sue Dawes, the council has already agreed that the house - which is not heritage listed - can be “disposed of”.

It is believed that four different leisure groups have expressed an interest in building a hotel or leisure facility on the site, which also includes the former outdoor swimming pool. However, using the site for new homes has been ruled out.

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In addition to the recent survey carried out by Sudbury Steering Group and consisting of two questionnaires and four public consultation events, the town council did its own informal appeal a year ago.

Mrs Dawes said: “We have given everyone a fair chance to come up with suitable schemes but to date, no-one has come up with anything other than wish lists.

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“There were lots of suggestions such as using the house as a registry office, wedding venue or mother and toddler centre, but no-one came forward wanting to take on the lease.

“From the consultation, we can see that people do have concerns about the loss of Belle Vue House but we are now in a position where we have exhausted all options for retaining it because no-one has come forward with any ideas for how it could be made sustainable.”

Sudbury steering group, including representatives from the town council and chamber of commerce, came up with concept plans that were the focus of the consultation, which asked for views on the plans and how the park facilities could be improved.

A total of 130 completed survey forms were received, and 50 people attended a consultation event at the town hall and left comments there. Out of those who responded, 49% were positive about the plans and 34% were negative.

Older people were more in favour of preserving Belle Vue House as a museum while younger residents favoured the idea of a hotel or café.

Steering group vice chairman Simon Barrett, who is also Babergh’s lead member for economic development, said the idea was to regenerate the whole Belle Vue area to boost the aim of building Sudbury into more of a “destination town”.

He added: “The steering group has been clear that it wants a regeneration package for the whole area because it’s an important gateway to the town.

“A leisure type mix would work well by opening up the park and making it more accessible for events and to the community.

“If we get a hotel chain in then Babergh doesn’t have to fund it, Sudbury would have a reasonable amount of investment from a private buyer and this would also create jobs.”

The ideas in the survey will now be presented to the relevant Babergh committees.

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