Businesses demand answers over Bury arc

Furious business leaders have demanded answers over the shelving of plans for a “vital” link between Bury St Edmunds' new arc development and the traditional town centre.

Mark Crossley

FURIOUS business leaders have demanded answers over the shelving of plans for a “vital” link between Bury St Edmunds' new arc development and the traditional town centre.

Developer Centros, which is behind the �100million development, had promised to build a five-metre-wide street, linking the historic shopping streets.

But it has now put the plan on ice and instead opted to improve the existing two-metre Market Thoroughfare with new paving and extra lights.

A meeting of the executive committee of Bury's chamber of commerce and industry on Tuesday decided unanimously to write to Centros and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, calling for answers.

Chairman Rick Wildridge said: “We've been told all along that there would be a seamless link between the arc and the traditional town centre. We've been badly let down.

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“It's crucial for the wellbeing of Bury that the new development is a natural extension of the town centre with an inviting link between the two.

“The opportunity to create this vital link is being thrown away.”

The meeting heard that the chamber had originally refused to back plans for the arc but had changed its policy after assurances that developers would provide an inviting route for shoppers into the historic town centre.

Existing routes include Market Thoroughfare and Central Walk.

Committee members will demand that until the full link is built, developers must provide:

BLOB “Dramatic improvements” to Market Thoroughfare

BLOB Signs at the arc pointing to the historic town, including shops and the Abbey Gardens.

A spokesperson for the council said when news first broke about the link being shelved that it would not step in to help fund it.

She said: “The original plans for the link would have meant a wait of some time before work could start. The advantage of getting work under way now is that there are no implications for council tax payers and the improved link will be ready in time for the opening of the Arc shopping centre.”

David Lewis, associate director of Centros, said: “We have always wanted to ensure that Arc integrates well with the town centre and, even though we haven't been able to acquire all of the properties in Market Thoroughfare as of yet, we can go ahead with these improvements now and avoid any disruption when the new centre opens.

“None of this work precludes us from making further improvements in the future, which remains our intention.

“It is also important to remember that there are many links between the town centre and Arc, and the council is undertaking similar improvements to Central Walk, which we think will be every bit as important as Market Thoroughfare.”