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Visitor centre ravaged by fire could be restored

The River Stour Picture: GREGG BROWN

The River Stour Picture: GREGG BROWN

Plans to restore a visitor and education centre on the banks of a picturesque Suffolk river after it was ravaged by fire have been revealed.

The River Stour Trust's visitor and education centre on the banks of the River Stour, in Great Cornard, was hit by fir last year Picture: RUSSELL COOKThe River Stour Trust's visitor and education centre on the banks of the River Stour, in Great Cornard, was hit by fir last year Picture: RUSSELL COOK

The River Stour Trust has submitted a planning application for its centre at Dove House Meadow in Great Cornard, near Sudbury, following the blaze around 2am on September 8 last year.

More than 30 firefighters tackled the blaze, which caused significant damage to the roof and veranda of the building and left it unsafe.

The trust, which is a registered charity and led by volunteers, has temporarily relocated to offices at the Granary, near the Quay Theatre, in Sudbury.

MORE: River Stour Trust hopes to boost tourist numbers with Constable Trail

A planning application to restore the building, which is situated next to Cornard Lock, has now been submitted to West Suffolk Council.

A planning application has been submitted to renovate the visitor centre in Great Cornard Picture: RUSSELL COOKA planning application has been submitted to renovate the visitor centre in Great Cornard Picture: RUSSELL COOK

Along with the reinstatement works, the proposed scheme will also see the external terrace area replaced with a disabled access ramp and changes will be made to the roof, rooflights, windows, and doors.

The visitor and education centre is used to promote the River Stour navigation and its importance in Britain's industrial and cultural heritage.

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In the application cover letter, Julian Williams, of BB Partnership architects, said: "The existing building is raised up above ground level due to its proximity to the river.

"One of the activities the centre provides is river trips for wheelchair users.

"The existing ramp to provide disabled access was built from compacted earth and very steep and not at all compliant with building regulations.

"This proposal will provide a compliant ramp.

"The other changes to the property are to introduce additional rooflights to give better natural light and ventilation to the centre and to change the main entrance door to provide better access for wheelchair users."

MORE: New electric boat 'Maria Constable' joins the fleet along the River Stour

Great Cornard Parish Council has backed the plans and West Suffolk Council is expected to decide on the application before the end of July.

This year the trust launched its new 'Constable Trail', which takes in 12 locations along the River Stour which appear in paintings by the famous painter.

For more information on the work of the trust and river trips, visit its website here.

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