Civic group gives cautious welcome to plans for town centre
- Credit: Archant
Plans to revitalise Sudbury town centre and build a budget hotel have been given a cautious welcome by the town’s civic body.
The Sudbury Society said it supported the aims of Babergh District Council to boost the town but had still had concerns in some areas.
The plans were unveiled in a two day exhibition last month and included the first glimpse of designs for the controversial budget hotel scheme on the site of the former swimming pool in Belle Vue Park and plans to pedestrianise Market Hill.
The council is currently consulting with the public over the scheme.
Society chairman John French said while the group supported the idea of a hotel it had concerns about a four-storey building on a raised site at a major entrance to Sudbury and overlooking the town conservation area.
"We would welcome the provision of extra hotel space in Sudbury but have serious concerns about the sheer bulk of the building and its impact in such a prominent location," he said.
"We also have concerns about the impact the building and its access road/parking provision would have on public access to Belle Vue Park and the congestion it would cause at the entrance onto Newton Road.
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"If the building has to be on this site we suggest that the floor plate could be extended to reduce the height by one storey or perhaps the ground level be reduced prior to construction."
The council is due to submit a planning application for the scheme later this year.
Mr French said the society was also concerned about proposals to remove parking spaces from Market Hill as part of a proposal to make the town centre traffic free.
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He said: "We strongly welcome the intention to create a more attractive and people friendly space on Market Hill. However, we cannot support the total loss of the current parking provision - some 60 spaces - and the impact on the viability of local shops and businesses.
"Some short term parking provision must be retained, along with provision for deliveries to those units which do not have rear access."
Mr French said alternative parking provision had to form part of the vision for the town, and bicycle use should also be encouraged.
But he said a proposal to reverse the flow of traffic in North Street with entry restricted to buses coming in from King Street must also be given a rethink.
"This relatively narrow street was redesigned a few years back with block paving, speed humps and parking lay-bys on the east side, all making it unsuitable for large double-deckers," he said.
"At present pedestrians, slow-moving through-traffic, parked cars and delivery vehicles all coexist reasonably well. We suggest it should be left well alone."
The council has put three options for neighbouring Belle Vue House on the table - two involve selling it and it being converted into private apartments, and the third, from Belle Vue Community Group, wants to use it for sheltered flats, a cafe and a community asset.
However the group is seeking funding of around £1.275m, from either the council or commercial backers, and paying back the debt over 30 years using rental income from the flats and café. This would need further scrutiny following the consultation.
Mr French said Sudbury already had "a fair degree" of community provision but this was still the society's preferred option, subject to viability.