Fresh plans unveiled for Sudbury’s post-Covid future

Fresh plans for the future of Sudbury town centre were unveiled for the first time today (Monday, September 28) at a public meeting of the Sudbury Vision Steering Group.

The council, supported by the Sudbury Vision Steering Group, has been developing plans for the town centre which were first shown to the public earlier this year.

The impact of Covid-19 , whilst severely impacting businesses and the wider economy has provided an opportunity to take a fresh, holistic approach to the plans for Belle Vue Park, Hamilton Road quarter and Market Hill by creating better connectivity and co-ordinated site master planning.

The Sudbury Vision Steering Group is made up of representatives from Babergh District Council, Suffolk County Council, Sudbury Town Council as well as other key partners from the town such as Gainsborough’s House and St Peter’s Centre. The aim of the group is to work together to deliver a shared vision for Sudbury and ensure a bright and healthy future for the town.

Feedback from January’s public engagement event “What’s Next for Sudbury” as well as discussions from the Sudbury Vision Steering Group have been considered in the latest proposals including the desire to better connect Belle Vue Park with the rest of the town.

The proposed masterplan for Sudbury therefore seeks to provide solutions which improve connectivity through the town for pedestrians, as well as better access to cycle routes and public transport whilst creating new areas of high-quality public realm for residents and visitors alike.

New plans for Belle Vue Park reveal how the front of the park could be opened to create a welcoming, accessible space for pedestrians and visitors. This approach would allow a dedicated space for a café and outdoor seating area to be introduced to the park. The initial proposals also include flexible uses for the old swimming pool site and Belle Vue House.

The plans for Hamilton Road quarter not only include the current ambition to relocate the position of the bus station but also to improve pedestrian access and explore opportunities for new homes.

The masterplan introduces the concept of a modern cinema complex and the creation a social space for restaurants and cafés. Discussions around the future of the Hamilton Road area outlined the potential to meet the towns need for a hotel, an option that had originally been considered for Belle Vue Park but had to be reconsidered earlier this year due to the impact of Covid-19.

The final element of the masterplan looks at the opportunity for Market Hill to become a useable public, pedestrianised space for the market, events, and activities to support retailers and the need to attract visitors into the town.

The concepts for Market Hill have been based on previous discussions at the Sudbury Vision Steering Group and feedback from the “What’s Next for Sudbury” event.

Public engagement for Market Hill is already underway with feedback from local businesses and stakeholders already collated. Local residents and the community will be invited to comment on the second part of the public engagement later this autumn.

The master planning and subsequent feasibility work will create a strong footing for accessing a range of external funding, direct investment, and joint venture opportunities. This work will start with detailed planning around the entrance to Belle Vue Park and creating an open, accessible space for visitors.

Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for economic growth and Chair of the Sudbury Steering Group, Michael Holt said: “We have listened to local businesses and residents on how they want to shape Sudbury town centre and we have used this feedback to develop high quality proposals for Belle Vue Park, Hamilton Road quarter and Market Hill. We know the local community is passionate about the town and the concepts that have been included in these masterplans provide an opportunity to connect the town for everyone who lives, works and visits.”

“The proposals shared with the Sudbury Vision Steering Group are part of a wide ranging programme that is looking at how to support businesses as well as attract more visitors to enjoy everything Sudbury has to offer.”

In addition to the proposed plans for the future of Sudbury, the steering group were also updated on significant projects such as new cycle storage in the heart of the town funded by the Department for Transports Active Travel Fund and future plans for enhanced cycle and walking routes.

The ongoing Sudbury Vision Steering Group programme includes developing opportunities to promote the cultural heritage in the town with the developments at Gainsborough’s House, St Peter’s Church, and events such as the Silk Festival.

More information about the Sudbury Vision Steering Group and the masterplan proposals can be found at www.babergh.gov.uk

Pictured above is an artist’s impression of how the entrance to Belle Vue Park could look was presented to the Sudbury Vision Steering Group

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