Sudbury: Town losing link to past, warns historian

AN HISTORIAN has urged planners to consider the heritage of a west Suffolk town when developing new schemes for its marketplace and high street.

Sudbury History Society chairman Barry Wall has warned that changes to the town’s shopping areas in recent decades have not been sympathetic to the original design of the commercial centre first built in the 14th Century. And he believes the town is losing some of its character as a result.

He said: “Sudbury’s town centre was designed for Elizabeth de Burgh in the 14th Century. It was an extraordinary and successful piece of town planning. It was built around St Peter’s Church as the centrepiece with a grand piazza out the front. The market square and nearby North Street were designed to create a perfect ambience for visitors and trade with a sense of space and nice views at the end of each street.

“For almost 700 years planners have respected this design but in the last 50 years our generation has lost sight of this vision. Some of the modern stores are completely out of scale with original buildings and we are in danger of losing the one thing that made Sudbury special and attracted people to the town.”

Mr Wall was speaking ahead of lectures he will giving at the Sudbury’s Quay Theatre later this month. They are the last in the historian’s highly popular ‘Streets of Sudbury’ talks, which focus on the heritage of individual areas in the town. The final two lectures will concentrate on the history of Market Hill, North Street and King Street – the town’s main commercial thoroughfares.

Over the past decade a number of ideas have been put forward to revitalise these locations as part of the Local Plan for the town. These have included planting trees in the town centre and building paved areas for outside dining. Most recently, the creation of a shared space scheme has been suggested.

“Let’s just be careful about how we spend money on the town centre,” added Mr Wall.

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“Let’s look at the history of the town and make sure development reflects our heritage.”

Mr Wall will be speaking at the Quay Theatre on Sunday, October 7 and 14, from 7.30pm. Tickets cost �7 with all proceeds going to the Quay Theatre.