St Peter's in Sudbury receives £100,000 cash injection towards £2.5 million regeneration project
A historic Sudbury landmark at the centre of ambitious £2.5million regeneration plans has received a vital boost to its cause thanks to a six-figure cash boost from Babergh District Council.
St Peter’s, the former church located in the heart of the town on Market Hill, secured a grant of £100,000 from the district council’s business rates pot on Thursday, at the authority’s most recent cabinet meeting.
It marks a significant step forward for the cause in securing the £500,000 match funding needed by March 2020, to be able to progress with the second stage of its application for Heritage Lottery Fund grants.
Oliver Forder, pictured right, chairman of the Friends of St Peter’s, said: “Everyone in Sudbury will be delighted with this news and we are very appreciative of the support Babergh is giving.
“It’s vital to the church but really important to Sudbury because it’s the largest space available for cultural events in the town.
“It’s the jewel at the centre of Sudbury – it was designed as a civic church for civic ceremonies and it’s a much-loved building.”
The Grade I listed building ceased operating as a place of public worship back in 1971, before reopening its doors for community events a few years later.
The venue now accommodates around 60,000 people for a range of different events each year, representing one of the most visited redundant churches in the country.
It is hoped that the regeneration project, once completed, will draw in an additional 40,000 visitors annually, thereby attracting further investment into the town centre.
The revamp proposals feature plans to install a mezzanine floor, toilet facilities for the first time, changes to the building’s west entrance to make it more open, a fresh kitchen area and a revitalised garden.
Long term, the goal is to develop St Peter’s into a thriving community space for both families and businesses, while also creating new opportunities for employment, volunteering, skills training and work experience for young people.
Mr Forder explained some of the renovation and repairs have been needed for “probably 200 years”.
He said: “The most important thing is it will provide us with the resources to increase the reach of St Peter’s to new audiences and, hopefully, younger audiences.”
The major renovation proposals are also being supported by the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT).
Alli Burke, the CCT development officer for the project, said: “We are extremely grateful to Babergh for this very generous grant.
“It will significantly help with the need to meet our match funding target for the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and help us to unlock funding from other potential funders.”
Last year, Suffolk councils took part in a pilot programme, in which they retained 100 per cent of the business rates they collected, instead of sending 50 per cent to central government as usual.
Babergh District Council’s cabinet made it clear last summer that £500,000 of its pot would be used for Sudbury regeneration projects, such as the proposed commercial, leisure and residential developments around the Hamilton Road quarter.
John Ward, district council leader, said: “This is a wonderful project and we are thrilled to be able to support it.
“The regeneration looks to not only breathe fresh life into a well-known and loved building, but also into the community it serves.
“These planned improvements will open up the venue up to a much wider variety of events and functions that will really bring the community together.”
Frank Lawrenson, Conservative cabinet member for assets and investment, added: “I think it’s incredibly important that we are seen to support the historic heart of Sudbury.
“Preserving these historic monuments for the people of Sudbury is incredibly valid for the heart of the town.”