Proposals to introduce a seasonal closure of parking spaces in Sudbury town centre have been withdrawn following opposition from businesses.

During a Sudbury Town Council meeting on February 13 the scheme, which would have seen half of Market Hill closed to drivers through the summer months with parking removed to create space for outdoor dining at the restaurants, was approved.

However, Suffolk County Council, the body with the power to approve the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order that would have been required for the move, has now confirmed it has decided to withdraw the proposal.

East Anglian Daily Times: The scheme would have seen half of Market Hill closed to drivers through the summer months The scheme would have seen half of Market Hill closed to drivers through the summer months (Image: Newsquest)

A county council spokesperson said: "Based on a number of reasons, including opposition from a number of local businesses, Sudbury Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders, we have decided to withdraw proposals to introduce a seasonal closure of Market Hill in Sudbury to traffic due to the potential detrimental impact to footfall and trade in the town."

Similar plans were in place between Covid lockdowns when parking was suspended and restaurants used the space to seat socially-distanced diners.

Michael Heyland, president of Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, said: "I think it will be a huge relief to all of the shop owners in Market Hill that it has been cancelled."

He said during the lockdowns when the scheme was introduced a survey was carried out that found 43 companies in the town were against the closure. 

He added that a more recent study saw 10 more companies share their view against it. 

Paul Clover, who represents nearby Lavenham on Babergh District Council, said: "I think I would describe this as a victory for common sense.

"The take away here is that if a council is looking to introduce a change of circumstance that impacts residents and business stakeholders alike, then they are duty bound to fully engage with the electorate that they represent.

East Anglian Daily Times: Paul Clover, for LavenhamPaul Clover, for Lavenham (Image: BDC)

"In this instance very little effort has been made to find out what people thought."

Jan Osborne, mayor of Sudbury, said she was disappointed that the decision has been made just weeks before the pilot scheme was set to start in May. 

"It has come as an utter utter surprise to us," she said.

"We have been planning this for two years and working with Suffolk County Council for at least 18 months on this traffic order.

"I am not giving up on this."

East Anglian Daily Times: Jan Osborne, mayor of SudburyJan Osborne, mayor of Sudbury (Image: Sudbury Town Council)

Ciaran Griffin, Sudbury Town Council clerk, said: "The council have met many times and this was discussed again in February and re-voted on.

"The majority of the councillors were were clearly in favour of trialling the scheme. It was discussed at the annual meeting of the town in March.

"There are groups of residents in favour of it and some very much against it.

"The issue is for it to be changed at the very last minute doesn't seem a good decision-making process."

He said the town council wishes to engage with the county council, and the cabinet member behind the decision, further to discuss their concerns.