Future of Belle Vue House
Further to a piece in the Suffolk Free Press on 8th September, here is the full text of the letter to the editor:
“We write jointly as President and Chairman respectively of The SUDBURY SOCIETY to object to the fundamental principle that Belle View House can be considered for demolition. This is not in the spirit of retaining our heritage assets to support the future prosperity of our town. It is both short term and will deny future generations an important legacy.
We fully share the considerable, and growing, misgivings of an increasing proportion of Sudburians and others who use, or simply enjoy, the Town and its facilities regarding the real prospect of the demolition of Belle Vue House (‘BVH’). On any reckoning it is one of our key Victorian buildings, erected in 1871 by Edmund Stedman, later purchased by another well known Sudbury solicitor, Henry Crabb Canham. Crucially, it was given to the Town before the war, and thereafter used for a variety of public purposes – as a military hospital, Council offices, Magistrates
Court, and for a variety of other uses such as for meetings and exhibitions.
The first signatory of this letter experienced all the uses and can vouch for the superb facility BVH was, and still could be. The decision made by the Council last week, in a closed meeting, to favour demolition of BVH (the way Councillors voted is being kept confidential) strikes us as perverse, given the multiplicity of uses to which it could very usefully be put, and as morally questionable given the fact that it was gifted to us. Thank goodness therefore that Babergh District Council (BDC), as voiced by one of their leaders, John Ward, who attended the last public meeting at the Town Hall to enable locals to confront Councillors and ask questions, made clear that BDC is for
There is much talk of a hotel centred around BVH, but oppositionists assert that that would damage our invaluable park. However, that need not occur. and BVH would be stylish and could accomodate the Hotel Reception, restaurants, Bars and meeting rooms. With bedrooms built in the extensive,adjacent woods to the east, that would surely be the best of all worlds and add to the Park.
This letter is inevitably severely constricted, but we do urge anyone who shares most of our views to get in touch with your BDC Councillor and/or Sudbury Council and/or BDC direct via John Ward. Time is short so please press on. We also now expect the BDC to provide public access in the near future so that anyone interested can see the inside for themselves, and so realise that the appallingly run-down exterior conceals potentially great space, to whatever use BVH is put. There are many more points we could make if space was limitless, but we should end by making clear that we appreciate how difficult being a Councillor or Official is in today’s world. That said, please save and imaginatively use BVH.
Andrew (Lord) Phillips OBE & Professor John French (President & Chair of The SUDBURY SOCIETY) “