Controversial plans for retirement living flats and the conversion of Belle Vue House in Sudbury into two homes has been refused.

The decision was made by the Babergh planning committee on Wednesday, September 21.

The plans were to redevelop the old swimming pool into a block of 41 retirement apartments and convert Belle Vue House into two homes.

Churchill Retirement Living's long-running plans were discussed on August 10 - with a recommendation for approval - however, the meeting was cut short following a legal issue.

Just days before the August meeting developers McCabe & Abel – which was going to handle the refurbishment of Belle Vue House - pulled out of the project.

It has since been revealed that the August 10 meeting was curtailed after a document was circulated among some of the committee members showing an alternative layout of the Belle Vue House site - consisting of flats.

Churchill Retirement Living said they were "firmly committed to the restoration of Belle Vue House".

In the wake of the meeting and subsequent investigation Hadleigh councillor Sian Dawson was removed from the committee.

Planning officers ran through a lengthy presentation to bring the committee back up to speed with the plans - with the recommendation remaining to grant planning permission.

Committee members then were able to question the planning officers on issues such as parking, access and drainage.

Sudbury Mercury: Cllr Ellen Murphy from Sudbury Town CouncilCllr Ellen Murphy from Sudbury Town Council (Image: Archant)

Representing Sudbury Town Council - which objects to the plans - Ellen Murphy said the town council would prefer an "open park" at Belle Vue and that when speaking to residents of Sudbury they "cannot see the need" for the development.

Ms Murphy also raised concern over the location of the residential flats on a "busy junction".

Laura Knight, from Belle Vue Action Group, said it is "very clear that Sudbury oppose the developments".

Ms Knight also argued that the swimming pool site should be regarded as open public space.

A representative from Churchill Retirement Living argued that the plans were "critical" to meeting the amount of retirement accommodation needed and that the site was "sustainable".

Committee members raised concern over the limited number of parking spaces - 16 in total - included in the plans but Churchill's representatives insisted that this would not be an issue.

County councillor for Sudbury, Jessie Carter said: "This application should be refused for a number of reasons: health, safety, heritage, poor design, dangerous highways, but most importantly because the people of Sudbury do not want it.

"They want public land to remain public and for the little open space Sudbury has left to be used in such a manner."

Ward councillor for Sudbury South, Sue Ayres also raised the issue of parking, branding the provision "totally unacceptable".

Great Cornard councillor Peter Beer urged his fellow committee members to "listen to the people of Sudbury" and that the project "isn't the right answer" for the site.

Alison Owen - Sudbury Northeast councillor - also voiced her objections over the scheme, arguing that "we can't afford to lose any open space".

Councillor Michael Holt however did urge his fellow committee members to consider the positives of the application including the provision of retirement living.

Councillor Mary McLaren was unhappy with the lack of affordable housing in the project.

Sudbury Mercury: Mary McLarenMary McLaren (Image: Babergh District Council)

Sudbury Southeast councillor Adrian Osborne argued that the scheme would be "a benefit" for Sudbury.

A variety of councillors also raised concern over the lack of affordable housing and CIL contributions.

Following the debate, councillors voted on the project - which resulted in six votes for refusal and five against, with the plans officially turned down.