UPSET residents have spoken out against plans to build a new family eatery on a popular recreational ground in Hadleigh.
Hadleigh Hall in Rectory Road could be torn down as part of ambitious plans by the Castle Point Regeneration Partnership to revitalise the John H Burrows Recreational Ground.
Concerns have also been raised about whether the WRVS Hall and Solby’s House could also be demolished.
The proposals would see the creation of a new restaurant, improved sports changing facilities and a 180-space car park, as well as the relocation of the existing tennis courts elsewhere on the site.
Restaurant chain Hungry Horse has expressed an interest in taking on the project and opening up a new eatery on the 1.15 acre site.
However, furious residents claim Hadleigh does not need another restaurant and the land should be retained for leisure facilities.
Roy Jones, 77, of Ashdown Crescent, Hadleigh, who is treasurer of the Hadleigh Bowls Club that used to use the hall, said: “Hadleigh needs another restaurant as much as it needs a hole in the head.
“We have so many restaurants in town already, it is a ridiculous idea.”
Mr Jones says Castle Point Council should instead spend money bringing Hadleigh Hall back to its former glory.
The community venue has fallen into disrepair after standing empty for over two years.
He said: “It is an absolute disgrace the council allowed this building to get into such a terrible state. It used to have excellent facilities.
“If the council just spent a bit of money doing it up, there are many community groups that would use it.”
Alfred Duff, 68, of Sherwood Crescent, Hadleigh, said: “John Burrows bequeathed this site to the people of Hadleigh for recreational purposes, not so a private restaurant can come in and make money.
“Hadleigh Hall is part of the area’s history and shouldn’t be torn down.”
The plans will be put on public display at the Hadleigh regeneration shop in the new year.
Pam Challis, leader of Castle Point Council, who sits on the regeneration partnership, said: “Time doesn’t stand still. We cannot just leave this area the way it is just to rot. The old hall is full of asbestos and is falling down so the sooner we do something about it the better.
“So many people use this site, whether they are going to the allotments or the children’s playground, so this plan will provide better car parking facilities and make better use of the site.
“People who have lived in this area for many years might not like change, but you have to look to the future. Hopefully people will be able to see the benefits.”