Sudbury: Property developer offers £750,000 to save Belle Vue House

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 west Suffolk businessman has offered to pay £750,000 for a historic council-owned property in a Sudbury park, to save it from the bulldozers.

An extensive consultation about the planned regeneration of Belle Vue Park and house failed to yield any sustainable ideas for retaining the 18th Century property in its current form, so it is now looks set to be demolished and replaced with a hotel or leisure facility.

The authority is looking to regenerate the whole area including the park and former outdoor swimming pool in bid to build Sudbury into a “destination town”. 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.

But property developer, Barry Drury, who owns dozens of buildings in Sudbury, has now pledged to stump up the £750,000 needed to purchase the house from Babergh District Council.

He said he would be prepared to gift the building – which has links with the Gainsborough family but is not heritage listed – to the town and put a covenant on it to prevent it from ever being knocked down.

Mr Drury, who lives in Long Melford, said if Belle Vue House is demolished, it will be “gone forever with more than 200 years of history down the drain”.

He added: “I have said I am prepared to buy it and save it for the town - I wrote to the council before the consultation deadline and have the support of hundreds of Sudbury people.

“But so far, no-one from Babergh has got back to me and I haven’t even been invited to look round the property.

Most Read

“If you get a big hotel group in, they will only create a few part time jobs. I can’t see why a budget hotel chain can’t build on the outskirts of town rather that in a prime town centre location like Belle Vue.”

Simon Barrett, chairman of the Babergh led Sudbury Steering Group, said the council could only take Mr Drury’s offer seriously if he came up with a long-term sustainable use for the house, which so far he has failed to do.

Mr Barrett said: “Anyone could just buy the house and save it but that wouldn’t help because all we have is a redundant building.

“Mr Drury might have the best intentions but his track record with old buildings in the town hasn’t always been good.

“If he came along with a credible offer, like buying Belle Vue House to refurbish it into a café suitable for a park setting, we would have a win-win situation.

“But I fear he has underestimated how much it would cost to refurbish it, run it and make it self-funding.”

According to Mr Barrett, a hotel on the site could create up to 60 jobs.

He added: “It’s about getting the best scheme for that area and we need to look at the investment in Sudbury. We have a duty to get the best value for tax payers.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter