Bury St Edmunds: Plans are submitted for the restoration of fire-damaged Cupola House

The destruction at Cupola House, home to Strada restaurant, in The Traverse, Bury St Edmunds, caused

The destruction at Cupola House, home to Strada restaurant, in The Traverse, Bury St Edmunds, caused by fire. Picture taken on 18/06/12 from an aerial ladder. - Credit: Mariam Ghaemi

A HISTORICALLY significant building in Bury St Edmunds is set to rise from the ashes.

Almost 10 months on from a devastating fire at Cupola House in The Traverse, planning and listed building applications have been submitted to St Edmundsbury Borough Council for the reconstruction the Grade I-Listed building.

The plans, which have been put forward by applicant OMC Investments which owns the building, include reinstating the cupola, from which the 17th Century-building takes its name.

The fire at Cupola House, which was home to Strada restaurant, on June 16 last year caused “significant damage”.

It is set to remain a restaurant, with the kitchen in the basement - its location before the blaze.


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Project engineer David Clarke said it is hoped the work will be finished in early June next year, adding the cost of the rebuild would be in excess of £1million.

A statement included with the plans said the project would secure the future of Cupola House.

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It said: “Cupola House is to be reconstructed in a scholarly fashion, reinstating as much salvaged material as is reasonably practicable and reconstructing the areas that have been completely destroyed.

“The fabric that remains in situ will be repaired, restored and redecorated to form the basis of the reconstruction.”

It said the intent was to recreate the external appearance as it was pre-fire, down to details such as the hung tiles on the south gable wall and the globe finial atop the cupola.

“The historic interiors will also be recreated, with the anticipation that the building will appear largely as it did before the fire.”

It added: “In summary, we believe that the proposals to the external envelope will reinstate what was a beautiful and still is a historically significant building in the centre of Bury St Edmunds, returning the streetscape in the conservation area to its former glory.”

It said the reconstruction and internal alterations would provide more functioning spaces than the building previously enjoyed and it would achieve a greater compliance with the statutory building regulations.

Alan Jary, chairman of the Bury Society, said: “We are very pleased to see things are progressing. They seem to have taken a fairly pragmatic approach.

“I’m delighted they are going to use an awful lot of what they have salvaged and, of course, some of the detail we have yet to go into.”

Martin Lightfoot, chairman of the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust, said “full marks” the reconstruction was proceeding.

“These sites sometimes sit idle for years, and of course the longer it goes on, it never gets done. It’s nice it’s actually happening.”

An investigation into the blaze by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service found it started accidentally in the basement kitchen and then spread to the rest of the building initially via the kitchen ventilation system.

Speaking of fire safety measures, Mr Clarke said: “It’s under ongoing discussions and certainly what is installed will be compliant with building regulations and with complete due regard to public safety and building usage.”

A heritage impact statement with the plans said fire doors in the principal rooms on the lower floors would be historically detailed to blend with the interior schemes and a “60 minute fire rated construction around the central stairwell” would be used.

It also said “a mixture of modern and traditional materials would ensure structural stability and adequate protection from fire...”

Purcell, the agent for the applicant, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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