News

CORONAVIRUS MESSAGE TO SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP:

Please note that due to the unprecedented lockdown and social distancing measures imposed by the government in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, members meetings are suspended until further notice and the AGM has been postponed. We will let everyone know once meetings can resume however you should assume April/May/June meetings will not be taking place.

We will seek to update this website with any important Society news and will also post onto the Society’s Facebook page – @sudburysociety – and continue our regular column in the Suffolk Free Press.

Thank you for your understanding during these difficult times and our prime concern is that members stay safe and well until the lockdown is over. Take care of yourselves and each other until we meet again!

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IN MEMORIAM: STEPHEN THORPE

It is with great sadness that we note the death last month of Stephen Thorpe, stalwart of the Society for many years with special interest in planning issues and an active campaigner for our town. We offer the sincerest condolences to his family, Pat and Rebecca, on their huge loss.
Here are some reflections on Stephen from fellow Society member, Robin Drury:

“I had known and worked with Stephen for many years. He helped me to re-invent The Granary, in Walnuttree Lane and the resulting professional friendship brought us together in a shared passion for the town we lived in.

Stephen was so enthusiastic for the built environment of Sudbury. He saw the Market Hill in particular as such a wonderful urban space that with a few planning development tweaks could be made so much better.

I remember the two of us, one morning, tramping around the town centre and having the discussion about how unco-ordinated our local authorities were in making planning decisions that joined up all the essential assets that made up the core of the town –
The Market Hill, North Street, the Bus Station, The Water Meadows and Belle Vue Park and roundabout. How, perhaps with an over arching plan, Sudbury’s ambience could be so much better.
That morning walk resulted in us collaborating to produce our own plans, with Stephen resolutely sinking a great deal of his professional time into plotting and drawing up concepts for the whole of the town centre. An enormous undertaking that would normally take local authority departments and consultants years to achieve, and who knows at what cost to the tax payer!
On the strength of Steve’s concepts and a little financial help from the Sudbury Society we produced a document ’Sudbury in 21C’ – a synopsis of our joint ideas. The two of us did a presentation to the town council and then did the same at a public meeting of 100+ in the Granary, Quay Lane. We took our audience by storm! The document was seen as a blueprint for what people really wanted for their town.
That was back in 1998. Since then Stephen and I have struggled to keep the planners on track. Much of what we conceived has now been written into Sudbury Town Council’s official document on how it see’s the future of the town centre. Babergh have also embraced much of it into ’Sudbury’s Vision for Prosperity’ project, which is fast evolving.
Unfortunately Stephen would never see any of this come to fruition but maybe, just maybe, his passion and vision will eventually bring about the changes for good in Sudbury that he always dreamed of. “
           RIP Stephen Thorpe

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** NB: POSTPONED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS **

SOCIETY AGM PLUS CHEESE & WINE EVENING – 26TH MARCH

There’s never been a better time to join the Sudbury Society and get fully involved in the debate about our town’s future and how we can both protect our built and natural heritage into the future.

We encourage ANYONE with an interest in our town to come along to our AGM at the Town Hall’s Assembly Rooms at the end of this month, listen to and share ideas and enjoy some Suffolk cheeses and wines at the same time!

The life and wellbeing of Sudbury as we move into the next era influenced by climate change, new technology and post Brexit needs to be properly debated by all with a stake in its future, so we particularly welcome younger people with the ideas and energy to drive our campaigns forward.

We look forward to seeing you on 26th March from 7pm!

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SOCIETY RESPONSE TO THE ‘VISION for SUDBURY’ PUBLIC EXHIBITION

This is the text of a column printed in the Suffolk Free Press shortly after the Public Exhibition of Babergh District Council’s ‘Vision for Sudbury’ proposals were displayed in St Peters on 29th/30th January 2020.

“We welcome this joint initiative by the District and County Council to engage with the people of Sudbury on the future of our town and trust that it will be just the beginning of the consultative process.

HOTEL: The proposed four-storey hotel would sit on a raised site at a major entrance to the town overlooking the town Conservation Area. We would welcome the provision of extra hotel space in Sudbury but have serious concerns about the sheer bulk of the building and its impact in such a prominent location. We also have concerns about the impact that the building and its access road/parking provision would have on public access to Belle Vue Park and the congestion it would cause at the entrance onto Newton Road. If the building has to be on this site we suggest that the floor plate could be extended to reduce the height by one storey or perhaps the ground level be reduced prior to construction. Really, the design for a building on such a prominent town centre gateway site should be the subject of an open design competition as was adopted for Ballingdon Bridge.

BELLE VUE HOUSE: We will make a brief response to the three proposals but all need further development to merit serious consideration.

1:Mcabe & Abel : This involves conversion to two large and hence expensive units. We have serious doubts about their saleability when their access is past the hotel car park access and the delivery route for services to the hotel. We assume they would require south facing gardens overlooking the Park and the owners of the houses will require privacy so there will need to be fences or walls. This would remove public access to part of the present landscaped garden.

2: Bream Real Estate: This scheme would provide a number of one and two bed apartments plus six further apartments in the grounds. We already have a large number of apartments recently created in the town eg in Sulby House and the former Great Eastern, and question whether this extra provision will be sustainable. However, we prefer it to Option One.

3: Belle Vue Community group. This proposal would keep the building in public use and would be more compatible with Belle Vue park. However, it has to be financially viable and this was very difficult to judge from what we were given at the exhibition. We already have a fair degree of community provision at the Christopher Centre and in current proposals for St Peters and similar ideas have come forward for the United Reformed Church. However, of the options given this was our preference, subject to viability.

MARKET HILL/TRAFFIC/BUS/JUNCTION PROPOSALS

These are complicated issues but we will comment on the main proposals.

We strongly welcome the intention to create a more attractive and people friendly space on Market Hill. However, we cannot support the total loss of the current parking provision – some 60 spaces – and the impact on the viability of local shops and businesses. Some short term parking provision must be retained, along with provision for deliveries to those units which do not have rear access. (The same applies in North Street where again the plan is to eliminate on-street parking.) We also feel that alternative parking provision must be part of the ‘Vision’ and every encouragement should give to the use of the bicycle. We would also like to see inclusion of Suffolk County Council’s broad plans for reducing the flow of heavy through traffic in Sudbury.

The proposal to reverse the flow of traffic in North Street with entry restricted to buses coming in from King Street must also be given a rethink. This relatively narrow street was redesigned a few years back with block paving, speed humps and parking laybys on the east side, all making it unsuitable for large double deckers. At present pedestrians, slow moving through traffic, parked cars and delivery vehicles all coexist reasonably well. We suggest it should be left well alone!

A few closing comments.

The first section of East Street is often used for deliveries to the Weavers Tap and the Nightclub which would completely block the proposed single carriageway leading to the traffic lights.

We note that the proposals do not seem to make any allowance for Taxis which often stretch from the rank right down King Street.

It is a pity that the Hamilton Road Quarter was almost totally ignored in this Exhibition on the future viability of Sudbury. The future of Borehamgate precinct also needs to be addressed to ensure it has a viable future. Virtually all this area has been acquired by Babergh District Council to facilitate a viable future for the town. We should not allow it to be ignored.

John French

Chairman

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BECKY PLANT IS OUR NEW PART TIME ADMINISTRATOR & DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
We are pleased to announce that after interviews in December, the Sudbury Society has, for the first time, appointed  a part-time administrator to support its advocacy work and take forward new initiatives and campaigns.
Becky Plant is now in place, has attended her first Executive Committee meeting and is quickly getting up to speed with priorities for filtering planning applications, supporting events and communications.
Welcome aboard Becky!

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Sudbury Society Architectural Competition

The Sudbury Society re-introduced the Alan Phillips award for outstanding contributions to the built environment in Sudbury and its surrounding area, inviting applications by the end of 2019. We have received a number of high quality submissions, including the former St Leonard’s Hospital site and Mattingly’s building in Friars St, and a panel will be reviewing them to decide a winner in time for the AGM in March.

Factors being considered include:

  • Buildings that have been conserved, restored or re-instated to a high standard
  • Examples of innovation and creativity in addressing the conservation of older buildings
  • Examples of the use of traditional skills in building craft and heritage
  • New buildings that sit easily within the context of Sudbury’s heritage
  • Examples of building that have addressed the challenge of ‘older buildings and climate change’

Good luck and thank you to all who took the time to enter!

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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
keeping BVH.
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.
Yours sincerely,
Andrew (Lord) Phillips OBE & Professor John French (President & Chair of The SUDBURY SOCIETY) “
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Part-time Administrator Vacancy…get in touch!

The Sudbury Society is seeking an administrator to support its work as advocate to conserve our town’s heritage and take forward new initiatives and campaigns. Do you have some spare time and an interest in Sudbury?
We estimate 6 hours/week on average with an hourly rate of £8.21 + agreed expenses to be paid. Work will include preparing committee meeting papers, filtering planning applications for review, assisting with newsjournal editing and local campaigns.
For an information pack, please contact chair@sudburysociety.org.uk
Closing date for applications: Friday 25th October

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 Sudbury Society Architectural Competition 2019/2020

The Sudbury Society is re-introducing the Alan Phillips award for outstanding contributions to the built environment in Sudbury and its surrounding area.

Applications can be made from Architects, Building Designers, Contractors and Builders, Home Owners or those involved in the heritage and conservation of Sudbury buildings and the Sudbury environment.

The judges will be looking for outstanding contributions to the built environment and these may include and cover any of the following areas:

  • Buildings that have been conserved, restored or re-instated to a high standard
  • Examples of innovation and creativity in addressing the conservation of older buildings
  • Examples of the use of traditional skills in building craft and heritage
  • New buildings that sit easily within the context of Sudbury’s heritage
  • Examples of building that have addressed the challenge of ‘older buildings and climate change’

We are inviting proposals in the form of a written submission of no more than 2000 words and five photographs plus a plan submitted as a single PDF file to The Sudbury Society. All entries to be sent to press@sudburysociety.org.uk on or before 1 December 2019.

The judges’ decision will be final and we expect to announce the outcome of the competition at the Society’s next AGM in March 2020.

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Further to a piece in the Suffolk Free Press on 8th September, here is the full text of the letter to the editor on the
Future of Belle Vue House
“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
keeping BVH.
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.
Yours sincerely,
Andrew (Lord) Phillips OBE & Professor John French (President & Chair of The SUDBURY SOCIETY) “

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Have you seen him?
This was the title of the article about Charles Debenham in the latest Society News Journal. He is a well known local artist with a unique point of view, focussing on the everyday elements in the local townscape. His latest work around Colchester and Sudbury can be seen at the Chappel Galleries (next to the viaduct in Chappel) until June 2nd. For opening times see www.chappelgalleries.co.uk
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Local List Publicity

We have recently succeeded in convincing Babergh District Council to accept an update to the Sudbury Local List – a description of architecturally and/or historically significant properties and places in Our Town – originally prepared by the Society in 2014. We are very proud of our Local List and urge everyone to take a look… a  press release was circulated at the end of March and appeared in local press including the Sudbury & Long Melford Community News. (Check out page 3 of the May 2019 edition by clicking on the link!)

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AGM

The Society’s 2019 AGM took place on Thursday 21st March at All Saints Church Hall at 7pm. Following activity reports by the current Executive Committee and election of new officers, a fascinating and informative talk was given by Professor Pamela Cox, Dept of Sociology, University of Essex as seen on the BBC TV series ‘Servants, Shopgirls and Sex Work : Hidden Histories’. See our next News Journal for more!