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Sudbury’s Belle Vue House awarded planning approval for restoration and homes conversion plan

The restoration of a historic Sudbury property has been given the green light, after planners ruled that its retention far outweighed any potential harm.

Babergh District Council has granted formal planning permission to period property specialists McCabe & Abel to carry out a proposed conversion of Belle Vue House into private residences.

The approval means the developer can now begin work to adapt the vacant manor – located within Belle Vue Park, off Newton Road – into two homes, along with adjoining garages.

Belle Vue House in Sudbury is in need of urgent renovation. Picture: Mecha Morton
Belle Vue House in Sudbury is in need of urgent renovation. Picture: Mecha Morton

Previously, the district council had agreed to sell Belle Vue House to McCabe & Abel, following the collapse of an arrangement with Churchill Retirement Living last year, after the latter’s plans for the site were rejected.

In his report recommending the plans for approval, Babergh case officer Bradly Heffer stated that the property is “currently disused and falling into disrepair”, and concluded that the conversion satisfied the criteria for sustainable development.

It was also confirmed that the developer intended to retain certain historic features of the building as part of the conversion, including the stained-glass windows.

“The building is considered to make an important contribution to the streetscape and the wider setting of the park, having an immediate visual relationship with this public space that is historically established,” the report read.

“It is noted that the heritage officer identified a low level of harm, due to the fact that a conversion to residential use could be seen as a severing of the building from the wider parkland.

“As a planning judgement, it is considered that the retention and reuse of the building would demonstrably outweigh this.

“Specifically in relation to the issue of severance, it is clearly the case that the existing spatial relationship between the building and the wider park area would be maintained.

“Overall, it is considered that tangible benefits arise from the proposal in terms of the retention and reuse of the building, which is locally-listed and at significant risk of falling into further disrepair.”

However, the Sudbury Society – a prominent civic organisation within the town – raised concerns about the length of time it had taken for the planning process to be completed.

The group suggested there was even a risk that the developer may have to sell the property on again, to focus on other projects.

“It has taken over five months for planning permission to be granted to convert to two private residences,” said a statement from the Sudbury Society.

“This protracted delay means McCabe and Abel have had to commit to other projects, and may look to sell the property to another developer.

“Sadly, Belle Vue House’s future is at risk again, and we cannot understand why Babergh District Council’s planning committee, including three elected Sudbury representatives, did not treat the planning application with the priority it demanded.”