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Visitor Centre plan postponed

PUBLISHED: 05:00 12 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:10 03 March 2010

THE National Trust is on the verge of postponing the opening of its £5million Anglo-Saxon centre in Suffolk after proposals for bringing in motorists were thrown out just weeks before the big day was due to take place.

THE National Trust is on the verge of postponing the opening of its £5million Anglo-Saxon centre in Suffolk after proposals for bringing in motorists were thrown out just weeks before the big day was due to take place.

The trust has finished the new exhibition, treasury and reception buildings at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, and everyone was preparing for a grand opening on March 14 before the first of the expected 50,000 annual visitors from around the world arrived.

Nobel Prize-winning poet, Seamus Heaney, has been booked to open the site, which is famous for the discovery of the seventh century East Anglian King Raedwald's 89ft-long burial ship and treasure, and to give a poetry reading.

But the trust has still not been able to sort out the access to the site off the B1083 road, nearly five years after it decided to redevelop one of the most important Anglo-Saxon burial sites in Europe.

Planners at Suffolk Coastal District Council are concerned about traffic safety issues and the potential conflict between visitor cars and huge lorries using Sutton Hoo Farm, adjacent to the ancient site.

The plan to alter the existing entrance was rejected unanimously and councillors now face having to make several improvements before it is acceptable.

The trust was given permission for a new access with the provision of a right turning central lane on the B1083 into the site in 1999, but they later asked for permission to alter the existing junction.

This was approved nearly a year ago and then the trust decided to alter the design again.

Councillor Ivan Jowers, told the development control sub-committee: ''This has been on the cards for four to five years and I am amazed that we are still talking about access to Sutton Hoo. This should have been sorted out ages ago.

''I support our tourism industry but I feel under no pressure to make a quick decision so that Sutton Hoo can be opened on March 14. It is their problem.''

John Richardson, committee chairman, said: ''It is infuriating that we find ourselves in this predicament before the opening. This is one of the jewels in our district crown.''

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