Converting Belle Vue House back into residential use, or using it for private sheltered housing, a café and heritage centre are amongst the suggestions for the future of Belle Vue House.
In September 2019, Babergh District Council invited formal expressions of interest from any individuals or groups with a financially viable proposal for the future use of Belle Vue House. At the same time, property agents Strutt & Parker were instructed to see whether there was commercial interest in the property.
Now residents are being asked for their views on the suggestions.
Developers McCabe & Abel want to buy the mansion to convert it into two family homes. The purchase and restoration costs would be privately funded with no cost to the taxpayer and restoration completed within 18 months. The town would also benefit from a contribution from the developers under a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contribution.
McCabe and Abel are responsible for the recent award-winning conversion of East House in George Street Hadleigh. The Grade II listed Georgian townhouse had fallen into disrepair following several years of public ownership and vacancy. Their “substantial and sympathetic restoration” of the property back to residential use earned them The Hadleigh Society Noel Turner Award.
Alternatively, developers Western Way LLP want to convert the mansion into seven or eight apartments and believe that this will create full time jobs for five people. Again, the development would be privately funded with no cost to the taxpayer and completed within 18 months and, again, the town would benefit from CIL contribution.
Western Way has recently completed a retail park development in Bury St Edmunds of 65,000sft with 182 car spaces, leased to The Range and B&M on long leases. The completed development was sold for over £11,000,000 to a UK fund.
Meanwhile, Belle Vue Community Group wants to use the building as a mix of sheltered accommodation of 10 flats, a café-restaurant and a legacy centre, either a Silk Heritage and Fashion Centre, or a Settlers’ Museum, focusing on the lives of the Winthrop family and others from the area who left for America in the 17th century.
Under this proposal, the community group is seeking funding for the capital works, estimated to be in the region of £1.275m from Babergh District Council or from some form of alternative commercial funding. The community group believes it would be able to pay back the debt over 30 years using the rental income from the sheltered flats and café. This will need further scrutiny following the consultation.
A second community bid suggested converting the building into a community health and wellbeing centre – working with local providers to offer classes, therapies and support to promote local residents’ physical, emotional and mental health. However, the group behind the bid felt they did not have plans sufficiently firmed up to be able take part in the consultation at this point in time.
The Council is inviting views via an online survey so public feedback can help inform further work and a final decision, to be made by Babergh District Council’s cabinet in June 2020.
For more information on the proposals