Bury St Edmunds: Proposal for Travelodge hotel at ex-council office site

PLANS have been submitted for a new hotel in a historic town which is popular with visitors.

M & D Developments has applied to turn part of New Shire Hall in Raingate Street, Bury St Edmunds – which is redundant Suffolk County Council offices – into a hotel following an unsuccessful campaign to let the extensive office accommodation.

The design and access statement submitted with the planning application said recent enquiries from hoteliers had inspired the application, adding that hotel chain Travelodge had prepared a scheme for the building which proposed 80 suites of various size.

The statement said the encouragement of tourism and visitors to the area was obviously to be welcomed and the enterprise would offer “significant” local full and part-time employment opportunities.

It said: “The location of the building is in many ways ideal for a hotel being sufficiently close to the historic town centre to enable easy yet pleasant pedestrian access yet situated in a quieter quasi-residential area with excellent adjacent private parking facilities.”

There are already a number of hotels in that area of Bury, such as the Chantry Hotel in Sparhawk Street, the Abbey Hotel in Southgate Street and the Angel Hotel in Angel Hill.

The town draws visitors to its historic Abbey Gardens boasting colourful floral displays, its bustling market and increasingly-popular Christmas fair.

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Sharon Fairweather, tourism officer for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “We are short of family rooms and budget accommodation, quality budget accommodation, which Travelodge tends to be. We have got good quality hotels and some small, sort of boutique hotels, but it’s the affordable family rooms we struggle for and a large amount of rooms, particularly for conferences and group travel.”

Andrew Denny, chairman of Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added: “I’m sure it would be popular. I think they will do good business whoever develops it.”

M & D Developments acquired the New Shire Hall site in 2010. New Shire Hall is the central building of the complex, which is undergoing development. A planning application by the firm has already been approved for a new wing at the site for residential apartments.

It is proposed that the eastern end of New Shire Hall is retained for office use.