Speculation intensifies over impending plans for regeneration of Sudbury
PUBLISHED: 10:20 19 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:20 19 April 2017
As initial plans for a multi-million pound regeneration project in Sudbury are due to be revealed, speculation is mounting as to what the scheme could include.
Three possible ideas for the Hamilton Road quarter are expected to be put forward by Babergh District Council next month after consultants were employed to test the market and asses what would be viable.
Over the past 18 months, the authority has invested almost £5million to acquire the necessary land to bring the plans to fruition, which are widely expected to include a cinema.
The Hamilton Road plans, which have been in the pipeline for more than a decade, will be put forward as part of the council’s overarching ‘vision for Sudbury’.
Babergh employed consultants Mace Green and Carter Jonas to come up with the masterplan. Two different developers subsequently said a cinema should be the focus of the regeneration project.
This week, the subject has been discussed extensively on Facebook.
Steve Hall, who recently stood for election to the town council, said: “Do people seriously think that a cinema and restaurant style regeneration will also encourage footfall to the rest of Sudbury when there is little shopping experience for them to stay?
“We appear to have lost our retail identity both locally and in the ability of encouraging consumers into the town whilst we watch our surrounding towns enhance their retail experience.”
Another local resident said: “I think the shopping complex is a very good idea – just look at what The Arc has done for Bury St Edmunds.”
But Babergh’s portfolio holder for business growth, Simon Barrett said retail may not be viable.
“Consultants are doing some soft market testing to see what’s available, what the market will want and what people are prepared to invest in,” he said.
“We have a consultation coming forward at the end of May and three options are being put forward. People will have a chance to look at those and comment.”
Regarding the idea of a cinema he added: “A good night time economy also supports a town. Other smaller towns like Thetford have a cinema and associated leisure and it works well. If a company is prepared to invest and they think the market is there then why wouldn’t we go with it?”
Bus station relocation?
The Hamilton Road project has proved controversial because Babergh District Council insists the bus station currently based at the site must be moved to make it viable for prospective developers.
The idea of relocating the facility to Girling Street car park with the loss of more than 70 parking spaces was recently dropped by the county council due to public opposition.
It is now believed that the council could be considering installing a number of extended bus stops in Great Eastern Road and at other locations around the town rather than having a designated bus station.
The much needed toilet facilities that were promised as part of a new bus station could still be built into the new Hamilton Road leisure complex, according to Babergh councillor Simon Barrett.
He said: “At this stage we are ruling nothing in or out.
“It’s about what’s best for the regeneration of Sudbury.”