Bury St Edmunds shopping centre manager says town is as ‘strong and vibrant as it has ever been’
- Credit: Archant
The manager of the Arc in Bury St Edmunds says the shopping centre has made the town’s trade as “strong and vibrant as it has ever been”.
Colin Roberts says the small number of vacant units in Bury St Edmunds is an indication of the town’s appeal to retailers and the shopping centre has strengthened trade overall.
The Arc manager was speaking after the chairman of Palmers – which announced it was closing its Bury St Edmunds fashion store last week – said the introduction of the retail centre had “changed the axis of the shopping area” and left the store at a “disadvantage”.
Palmers’ Homestore in St Andrews Street is also scheduled to close next year as part of a redevelopment project.
The Palmers closure has also brought the long-standing issue of a proper walkway between the modern Arc and the old town centre to the fore with the suggestion that visitors are not always fully aware that both parts of the town exist.
The issue was included in the draft town centre masterplan, and the working group for the document are due to meet next month.
Mr Roberts said: “I’m very sad to see Palmers go. But I think you only have to take a walk around the town to see how few vacant units there are to see how the Arc has strengthened trade.
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“I had someone on the phone recently, tearing their hair out trying to get a suitable retail space in Bury St Edmunds, and I think that shows the town is as strong and vibrant as it has ever been.”
Bruce Sturrock, Palmers chairman, said: “Some people may remember that I tried very hard to expand our business in Bury by incorporating our St Andrews Street property into the Cattle Market development. However it was not to be.
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“The axis of the town changed with the introduction of the Arc, which left the fashion store at a disadvantage.
“It is very unfortunate that one of the things that was promised – a proper link between the Arc and the town centre – never happened.”
Mark Cordell, chief executive of the Business Improvement District (BID) group, said: “I am confident that the issue of a link between the Arc and the old town centre will be one of the first things that the council commit to look into as some visitors to the town are not fully aware of the existence of both the Arc and the old town centre.
“The masterplan working group are due to meet next month and hopefully this long-standing issue can be resolved.”