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Hamilton Road quarter needs regenerating quickly to help turn around falling Sudbury footfall – chamber president

PUBLISHED: 16:31 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:32 20 April 2017

Borehamgate shopping centre in Sudbury at the front of where the Hamilton Road development will be. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Borehamgate shopping centre in Sudbury at the front of where the Hamilton Road development will be. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Regeneration of Sudbury’s Hamilton Road quarter needs to come quickly to help the town recover from a period of declining footfall.

So says the president of the town’s chamber of commerce, which is putting in place plans to address a recent downturn that coincides with a number of large brands leaving Sudbury, including Argos, Poundland, Burton and Viyella, with Sports Direct the latest to announce its plan to depart.

While some have claimed the soon-to-be-redeveloped Hamilton Road quarter would benefit from a number of larger retail units being put there, chamber president John McMillan said the priority had to be to get the units filled.

“I would like to see the site developed,” he said. “I want to see the thing looking positive, vibrant and not an empty, wasted space. Also it would help link up Waitrose with the town centre.”

He said increasingly town centres were going down the restaurant and leisure route as a way to draw in customers.

“We’re concerned at the moment that we do need to be boosting the town centre retail,” said Mr McMillan.

Many have called online for the regeneration of the Hamilton Road quarter and Borehamgate Precint to feature a range of large shops and Babergh District Council, which owns most of the site, is set to reveal different options for its regeneration in the coming weeks.

“It’s never good news having empty space in the town,” Mr McMillan said. “We’re delighted if we get it finally developed because it’s dragged on many years.”

He said there had been a “healthy debate” in the town at present about what the regeneration should look like.

While he said he would prefer more retail units, the fact remained that many larger companies were “re-trenching” and pulling out of towns, so in fact a leisure and community use for the site could be better than leaving it empty.

“It’s goes back many years when surveys were done of what people in Sudbury wanted and felt they were missing,” he said.

“One of the things that came up was a cinema. There’s been a tremendous demand for a cinema from the public.”

The decline in Sudbury footfall had struck in the past 12 months, he said, with Sudbury usually holding up well against declining national trends.

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