Sudbury: Consultation criticised for lack of options for Belle Vue House
12:19 18 August 2014
The consultation over the future of an award-winning park in west Suffolk has been criticised as a “fait accompli”.
Detailed plans about the proposed future of Belle Vue Park in Sudbury went on display last week at a series of public events. The proposals from Sudbury Steering Group include improvements to the park and former swimming pool area, re-equipping and enhancing the existing facilities and upgrading access.
However, they do not give any options for retaining historic Belle Vue House, which has angered some local people. The house, which was originally built in the 1780s by Nathaniel Burrough, a retired grocer related to the family of Thomas Gainsborough, is a well known Sudbury landmark but it is not heritage listed. It currently houses the Citizens’ Advice Bureau but the building is in need of significant repair.
Many community members believe the house should be preserved and converted into a community facility, but this is not one of the options being explored. Babergh District Council, which owns the house and park, is also believed to be in the final stages of negotiations with Premier Inn to build a hotel and restaurant on the former swimming pool site next to Belle Vue Park, further fuelling suggestions that Belle Vue House will be demolished.
About 50 people attended the first two consultation sessions at the town hall last week. Town councillor John Sayers, who helped to run the event, said there was a relatively low turn- out. He added: “I’m afraid there is a certain amount of apathy towards the regeneration because people think it’s a done deal that Belle Vue House will be knocked down as it is not a focus of the consultation.”
Nigel Bennett, chairman of the steering group, denied that the park’s future was a “fait accompli”. He said: “Nothing has been decided yet and hence why we are holding these consultation sessions. But, realistically we can’t keep subsidising Belle Vue House and it would take £250,000 to bring it up to spec. If the decision is eventually made to dispose of the site, any capital received would be kept in the town.”
The final consultation is on Saturday, from noon to 3pm, in Belle Vue Park.