The majority of residents attending tonight’s consultation on Sudbury’s proposed new bus station in Girling Street car park have criticised the plans but there was some support for the redevelopment of the Hamilton Road Quarter.
This evening was the first of two public pre-planning consultations at Sudbury Town Hall on the plans, with experts from WSP Parson Brinckerhoff - who have designed the prosed station’s layout - in attendance.
The consultation continues tomorrow (Saturday) 10am-4pm.
There was anger as Suffolk County Council, who is putting the planning application together, failed to send any councillors or officers on the evening.
While engineers could answer technical questions they were unable to answer other issues such as the loss of parking and why the site had been chosen.
A county counil spokesman said questions relating to loss of parking would have to be answered by the land owner Babergh District Council.
Again the loss of parking was one of the main criticisms of the site by residents, but there were those in favour of the move and of the Hamilton Road development - which was described as an eye-sore by several participants.
“I don’t use the bus as I live in Sudbury but I do feel for the people that do,” said Brenda Graham from Edgworth Road, Sudbury.
“Moving the bus station away from the rail station and reducing car parking is crazy, it’s always full.”
Mrs Graham suggested having the station nearer to the station with access from Cornard Road and bus stops in the centre of the town, saying this would reduce traffic.
She questioned the sense of reducing parking when already Edgworth Road and other streets struggled with commuters parking there during the day.
Sudbury Steering group has said surveys have shown that there would be adequate parking if the 50 spaces in Girling Street were removed.
Andrew Mullock from Dove House Meadow, Great Cornard, was in support of the proposal.
“It needs to be moved. It’s an eye-sore. You need development.”
Mr Mullock debated the merits of a new development with Kate Bentley Walls from Brent Eleigh.
Mrs Bentley Walls believed a development similar of that to the Apex in Bury St Edmunds would take the heart out of Sudbury, but Mr Mullock said Bury had retained it’s traditional centre while offering other features such as the Apex theatre.
He described this as a fantastic venue, while saying the other parts of the shopping complex offered something for the younger generation.
He also supported the relocation to Girling Street, saying: “It has to go somewhere and as they own the land it would be cheaper.
“If not development costs would be monumentally less, which as a rate payer, our rates would go up considerably.”
David Lamming from Boxford said the consultation failed to address the ‘real problem’ of whether the bus station should be in Girling Street at all.
He said too much focus was on whether people liked the design of the new station, rather than focusing on its location.
So far more than 6,000 people have signed a petition against the station being moved to Girling Street.
Jack McCann, 20, who owns the kiosk by the station, Fill the Gap, said he was concerned what would happen to his business if the station was to go, with bus drivers being his main customers.
He said that if he did not own the kiosk he would still have a problem with the loss of the car parking spaces, but said he would want to see some development.
Despite being the youngest person at the consultation, Mr McCann was unsure of the need for a cinema to be built, questioning how well used it would be.
“Maybe for the town it would be good but better shops would be nice. At the moment it’s just charity shops and cafés.”
Despite promises of retail interest in the site from the steering group, Ron Bowman JP, from Swanfield Long Melford questioned the introduction of major retailers, saying: “Why did Burton pull out? Why did Marks and Spencer pull out?”
Maureen Bricknell, who has lived in Sudbury in Catesby Meadow for the past seven years, said since moving to the area they had always regarded the bus station area as an eye-sore and had questioned why nothing had been done about it.
Mrs Bricknell and husband Sydney said they did not use the station too frequently other than for coach trips therefore a move to Girling Street would not affect them but said it was a lot of car parking spaces to lose.
Mrs Bricknell said for her the priority would be for the area to be rebuilt, however added: “They are trying to attract people to the area but where will they park?
“If you to Girling Street on a Saturday you can’t get a space and you have to go miles away.
“It’s a nightmare trying to get out of the Kingfisher car park. But we do want something to be done with that area, it’s an eye-sore.”
A concern that has been raised by some residents, including campaign group Save Our Bus Station (SOBS), is the lack of a drop-off point, with the current station often used by parents to pick up their children from school buses.
A spokesman from WSP Parson Brinckerhoff said there would be no drop-off as having this alongside buses raised safety issues.
He said the drop-off would be available in North Street, saying it would be up to the council to manage which vehicles entered the new station if built. He added that the council should be managing vehicles using the current station as a drop off also.
There have ben questions over the support from bus companies for the move but the spokesman added that Felix, Beestons and Chambers had all been consulted, all supporting the proposed layout and the bays designed.