Sutton Hoo bosses say we'll be open

NATIONAL Trust bosses have promised a new visitors' centre, set to be one of East Anglia's most popular tourist attractions, would now open on time.They made the pledge after settling a dispute over the safety of visitors travelling to the world-famous Sutton Hoo site, near Woodbridge.

P9 lead with secondary pic of peter waring in fotostation

WE will open on time.

That was the pledge today from officials at the National Trust who have promised a visitor centre at the historic Sutton Hoo site, near Woodbridge, would not be delayed in opening.

For they have now finally settled a dispute over the safety of visitors travelling to the world-famous tourist attraction.

An application to change the existing entrance to the Sutton Hoo archaeological site was thrown out by Suffolk Coastal District Council last week amid concerns about its planned access road.

But faced with the prospect of delaying the March 14 opening of the new £5 million venue, the National Trust has performed a U-turn and decided to build the access route preferred by the council.

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The visitors' centre at Sutton Hoo will feature priceless relics found during the 1939 excavation of the site.

It is expected to attract 50,000 visitors a year from across the world, making it one of the region's premier tourist hotspots.

Irish poet Seamus Heaney was booked to perform the ceremony to open the centre, but the plan was thrown into turmoil when farmer Peter Warning raised objections about the proposed route to the site.

Mr Waring, who owns the adjacent Sutton Hoo Farm, warned the road would have put the lives of farm staff and visitors at risk as it would have crossed a busy route used by heavy farm machinery.

Rather than postpone the centre's opening, the National Trust has now decided to use instead a different junction off the B1083 and an access road that had previously been approved by members of the council's planning sub-committee.

It is hoped that will resolve planning issues that have dragged on for more than half a decade since the National Trust decided to redevelop the Anglo-Saxon burial site.

A National Trust spokesman said last night: "Following further discussions and with the assistance of its neighbours, the National Trust is pleased to be able to announce that, despite recent uncertainty, it will be possible to open the new visitor facilities on March 14."

He added it had reached an agreement "acceptable to all parties concerned" to revert to the previous route that "addresses the safety concerns of neighbours".

The scheme is virtually the same as the one that received the consent of the council last year.

"This will remove the need for the farm crossing, over which there were safety concerns," said the National Trust spokesman.