Boost for major town redevelopment

By Benedict O'ConnorTHE final plans for a multi-million-pound retail development that could change the face of a historic town are at last to be submitted to a council.

By Benedict O'Connor

THE final plans for a multi-million-pound retail development that could change the face of a historic town are at last to be submitted to a council.

After three decades in the pipeline, the plans for the controversial Cattle Market development in Bury St Edmunds are due to be lodged tomorrow with St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

A spokesman for developers Centros Miller confirmed a final set of plans was being drawn up for the 12-acre site in the centre of the town and was expected to be submitted to the council tomorrow.

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St Edmundsbury Borough Council has declined to comment ahead of the official submission of plans.

However, council leader John Griffiths said: “This is another step forward in what has been an obviously challenging and exciting project both for St Edmundsbury Council and for the town of Bury St Edmunds.”

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Mike Ames, leader of the council's independent group and chairman of Bury St Edmunds Town Council's planning committee, added: “This redevelopment of the centre of Bury St Edmunds is a landmark in the town's history.”

The plans combine residential flats, a new public building, a futuristic Debenhams department store and a parade of timber-framed shops linking the new development to the town's existing retail centre.

However, Sir Reginald Harland, of heritage watchdogs the Bury Society and the Suffolk Preservation Society, warned the plans would require close scrutiny.

“There are a number of potential areas of concern, not least of which is the loss of parking spaces,” he said.

“But there is also the way the development links to the existing town centre shops and the impact of so many new shops opening at the same time upon the present retailers.

“This development will represent and increase in the number of shops of something like 20% and they are all due to open at the same time.”

Sir Reginald said previous plans for the site, which is currently used as a car park with more than 1,200 spaces, would leave a shortfall of more than 300 spaces, which could cause serious problems for shoppers and commuters.

He added should the plans not address these issues, they would be strongly opposed.

Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce, which has previously been critical of the development, declined to comment until the plans have been submitted.

The plans can be expected to go before the council's planning committee for determination within the next two months - and should they be successful, work is expected to start later this year, with completion due in 2007.


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