Plans for new state-of-the-art Bury St Edmunds sixth form are approved

A computer generated image inside the new building Picture: ABBEYGATE SFC

A computer generated image inside the new building Picture: ABBEYGATE SFC - Credit: Archant

Building work to create a new multi-million pound sixth form centre in Bury St Edmunds can now start as detailed plans were rubber-stamped after being scrutinised by councillors.

Another impression of the new building Picture: ABBEYGATE SFC

Another impression of the new building Picture: ABBEYGATE SFC - Credit: Archant

Abbeygate Sixth Form College, which will be in the grounds of King Edward VI School, will be operated by the Suffolk Academies Trust, a collaboration between One Sixth Form College in Ipswich and West Suffolk College in Bury, and accommodate up to 1,700 students.

The opening of the new centre to students is now expected to be in spring 2020 following delays in ironing out the details of the planned building works.

Concerns have been raised over the loss of existing playing fields, parking and traffic congestion in Newmarket Road and Western Way, but overall councillors at the planning meeting on Thursday, December 6, were supportive of the project.

Afterwards committee member Terry Clements said the new state-of-the-art centre would benefit “the greater area” and “students in the future”.

David Gartland, principal of Abbeygate Sixth Form College Picture: ABBEYGATE SFC

David Gartland, principal of Abbeygate Sixth Form College Picture: ABBEYGATE SFC - Credit: Archant


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Abbeygate principal David Gartland said they were “absolutely delighted” the plans had been given the green light.

He said: “I’d like to thank everybody who has supported our vision so far. We are committed to investing in the young people of this region and to help in shaping their futures.

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“Abbeygate will have a comprehensive curriculum offering in a specialist high specification building which will be fundamental in supporting all the fantastic students, teachers and support staff.

“We are very excited for the future and will continue to work with all parents and young people who will be our first Abbeygate students closely over the next few months.”

Sport England no longer object - but remain “concerned” - over the loss of an area of playing fields forming part of King Edward VI School as there will be improvements to the remaining playing fields and the existing sand-dressed artificial pitch will get a 3G surface.

Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, a member of the planning committee, said she had concerns over traffic in the western side of the town, adding there needed to be a long-term vision.

The council officers’ report said the highways authority had been “satisfied that the impacts of the scheme will be at an acceptable level following the improvements to nearby junctions”.

Students will initially be accommodated at the University of Suffolk at West Suffolk College until building work is complete.

Abbeygate Sixth Form College will have about 200 teaching staff.

Partner schools in the project include King Edward VI School, Newmarket Academy, Stour Valley Community School, and Sybil Andrews Academy.

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