What's Next for Sudbury? Article for Suffolk Free Press 7/7/22

July 7, 2022

WHAT’S NEXT FOR SUDBURY

The recent exhibition at the Town Hall contained a huge amount of information about major redevelopment proposals in Sudbury including Market Hill, Hamilton Quarter, Belle Vue Café, way-marking, bus stops and related highway changes. Given the complexity of the proposals and their huge potential impacts, the Sudbury Society believes that for it to be meaningful, consultation needs to be more extensive to give more people more time and space to consider the proposals, ask questions and interrogate the thinking behind the changes.
It also seems that responses are being driven primarily online and there needs to be more effort to facilitate other ways of making community views known. All of the information is available to inspect online via
https://www.babergh.gov.uk/business/economic-development/sudbury-
vision/whats-next-for-sudbury/

or go into the Town Council offices and ask for help. We urge anyone who has any interest in the future of Sudbury to respond to the consultation by their deadline of 18th July.

The Sudbury Society, who are your local civic society, will be making our own response, and will also share our thoughts and reactions on our website and on paper in due course. We are certainly not against change in Sudbury, but we believe any proposal should be judged against whether it improves the facilities, environment and future vitality of our market town for future generations, paying great respect to its historic character. We need future-proofing to ensure that for the next 20 years, the town is fully prepared to cope with the undoubted changes that will come.
The proposals in the exhibition have been formulated by Sudbury Town Council, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council and Suffolk County Council. It is essential that they are fully coordinated for the benefit of all of us who live and work in the town and not to individually answer the aims of these separate authorities.
We do question how much inter authority discussion has been undertaken as the proposals seem almost independent. For example, the highway proposals for Market Hill show Lloyds Bank, Barclays Bank and Sudbury Library being located on ‘King Street’. This ridiculous and incorrect description stems from Google maps rather than reality and our councils who represent us and spend our money should make sure they get the details right!
In terms of details, we were pleased to see proposals for a much needed roundabout at Great Eastern Road. With the recent approval of a large doctor’s surgery on the lorry parking area by Waitrose, this is even more important.
However we fail to see the value of a proposal to make Ingrams Well Road one way with signals at the Newton Road junction. This looks like an example of how to spend money for no real advantage. The volume of pedestrians using this steep road is minimal. Signals on Newton Road will slow and congest traffic on a main traffic route into and out of town. If buses could use Girling Street and Newton Road these works would be completely unnecessary.
Parking provision is important so we need to know the impact of changes to the Girling St Car park layout and on Market Hill. Girling Street is part of our inner ring road and should be kept as free flowing as possible - another pedestrian crossing would be a total waste of money as there are already 2 within a short distance. Lorry access to stores on North Street, which currently cause congestion on Girling Street, must be addressed in any redesign.
Similarly with the proposal to make East Street a single carriageway, seemingly to help with buses turning right at the Girling St junction, we feel this will increase congestion. The proposed junction change will involve changing the light phases at this junction which is going to get huge increases in traffic flows due to the Chilton Woods development. No allowance has been made for loading which already congests this 2 lane road. Pedestrian traffic uses the north side where there is a pedestrian crossing to Waldingfield Road so proposals to widen the south side are hard to understand. By all means change the geometry of the junction to make it easier for buses but not by ignoring how drivers and walkers do, and will continue to, move around.
In relation to the proposed King Street bus stop and Market Hill proposals, we feel that the overall design and proposals for this special place should be treated together. Treating it as two separate projects does not make sense and ensures that the solution will be the worst of all possible results. We need a solution which softens the impact of parking but retains some of the 60 currently on offer, on-site or very close by. We believe a 20 MPH speed limit throughout this increasingly pedestrianized area is essential for the safety of all, particularly those on foot, using buses and bikes.
The proposals for the Hamilton Road Quarter are complicated and must co-ordinate with the other proposals. IF the bus station is to be closed, we need to know what facilities and information will be on offer at the on-street stops around the town.

To wrap up our initial thoughts –
- We are not yet convinced that there is sufficient co-ordination between the agencies across the proposals, particularly for Market Hill. We need the best possible design and all agencies agreeing to prioritise the improvement of facilities in this historic environment.

- We are concerned that some of the proposed highway changes appear to have been designed to solve perceived problems but in fact create others. Where is the overall benefit?

- Funding is a major stumbling block to delivery for all of these proposals, reliant on levelling up funding becoming available. Everybody in Sudbury wants to see the town improved but how many of us believe that the town will qualify for funds against the background of huge government funding issues and the fact that Sudbury (whilst having issues) is more fortunate than many centres in the country as a whole?

- We believe some consultation with the people of Sudbury before presenting these proposals would have ensured a more informed selection, saving time and cost. It seems very reminiscent of the last consultation when the proposal was to reverse the flow of traffic in North Street and give it priority for buses. We now have just over 2 weeks to make comments on a bewildering array of proposals that could impact our town for generations to come. It feels that our authorities are trying to rush through proposals that they have worked on for over a year when they could and should have consulted as the proposals were being developed.

We have waited a long time for the Vision of Sudbury to take on a more concrete form so we ask our authorities to give those who live and work here enough time and opportunity to give meaningful feedback.

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