Town land swap deal is welcomed

A “BREAKTHROUGH” land swap deal could pave the way for the regeneration of a neglected part of a Suffolk market town.

Will Clarke

A “BREAKTHROUGH” land swap deal could pave the way for the regeneration of a neglected part of a Suffolk market town.

Waste land between Sudbury's bus station and train station has been a source of difficulty for planners and an eyesore for residents after a housing scheme was rejected by Babergh District Council.

The council wanted to see shops and homes on the town centre site. So instead, the original developer - retirement home builder McCarthy and Stone - has been offered land around Belle Vue House in the proposed swap.


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It is expected McCarthy and Stone will now share the site around Belle Vue House with a proposed health service hub, together with public buildings housing the Citizens' Advice Bureau, West Suffolk College site in Sudbury and the Stour Valley Old People's Centre.

The district council authorised its officers on Thursday to enter into negotiations with the Hardwick House Surgery, which is developing the health hub plans, for the development of a new building combining a medical practice and community rooms on the Belle Vue House site.

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Councillors believe the McCarthy and Stone town centre site would then be used to “better integrate Sudbury's existing transport and shopping facilities and its community life into a unified whole”.

Nick Ridley, Babergh's strategy committee chairman, said: “What started off as a speculative approach by the Hardwick House practice to buy a freehold site has developed into a much broader and visionary opportunity to realise an improved Sudbury town centre encompassing better and more accessible facilities for all. The proposed land swap would double the benefit to the town in this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

“Our priority is now to fully engage with Sudbury Town Council to partner with us and others in helping to develop this wonderful opportunity for the town”.

John McMillan, president of the Sudbury and District Chamber of Commerce, said he had had concerns the land near the bus station might become a retirement community but he hailed the news as a “breakthrough”.

And although he noted caution ahead of the negotiations, he said: “This is absolutely fantastic, I've been fighting for a mixed use development for five years, so this is really good news.”

Both Hardwick House and McCarthy and Stone representatives have indicated their support for the scheme and are looking to developing detailed designs once negotiations with Babergh are completed.

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