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Huge health, leisure and education site moves a step closer

PUBLISHED: 12:26 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:26 11 September 2019

An exhibition will be held over the proposed Western Way development Picture: PICK EVERARD

An exhibition will be held over the proposed Western Way development Picture: PICK EVERARD

Archant

Multi million pound plans for a scheme to integrate health, leisure and education services on one site in Bury St Edmunds have taken another step closer to completion.

The site layout for Western Way Picture: PICK EVERARDThe site layout for Western Way Picture: PICK EVERARD

The final business case for the Western Way development has been approved by the cabinet for West Suffolk Council.

The business case will now go to the full council later this month which, if approved, will see the authority look at applying for planning permission.

The next steps will include a further process of looking at finances before committing to a final scheme.

The plan said council capital expenditure on the scheme should not exceed £112 million, funded by borrowing, but starting applying for planning permission would enable the council to seek further external investment.

The proposed new swimming pool at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre within the Western Way development Picture: PICK EVERARDThe proposed new swimming pool at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre within the Western Way development Picture: PICK EVERARD

The final plans are being examined by public sector partners which could bring together new leisure facilities, health, education and other public services with the commercial sector on one site.

Jo Rayner, portfolio holder for leisure, culture and community hubs at West Suffolk Council, said: "I welcome the support shown by cabinet and partners for this project.

"If given the go ahead, this will be an exemplar initiative nationally on not only how all public services can share buildings and space but work in a more joined up way to be better than the sum of their parts.

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"The finances currently show that it is capable of paying for itself over time but before any contracts are awarded there will be a formal process to have a further in-depth look at costs."

Although situated in Bury St Edmunds the council believes the project will benefit residents further afield in West Suffolk.

Part of the proposal is a complete replacement of the existing Bury St Edmunds leisure centre, which is nearly 45 years old and shortly in need of considerable investment.

The business case says replacing the centre now will be cheaper in the long-term for taxpayers, as well as better for users.

An artist impression of what the new Western Way public services hub could look like. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILAn artist impression of what the new Western Way public services hub could look like. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

The proposals for the new leisure centre integrate it with a proposed community health facility and increase the amount of water activities for families with young children.

The project also proposes improvements to the existing skate park.

The scheme proposes the steel frame of a former depot on Olding Road is re-used for the new public service building.

A public consultation on the draft designs has been held and ended on 10 September.

For more details go to the council website.

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