Cathedral project to be restored

A VITAL part of one of Suffolk's most impressive building projects in recent years looks set to be restored more than four years after it was deemed too expensive.

A VITAL part of one of Suffolk's most impressive building projects in recent years looks set to be restored more than four years after it was deemed too expensive.

As the St Edmundsbury Cathedral tower fund nears completion, plans to build £1.1 million cloisters, taken out of the original designs, could now see the light of day.

Project co-ordinator Euan Allen said the Millennium Commission had invited the project to apply for extra funding and their bid has now been short-listed for a further £500,000 to help build the cloisters.

Mr Allen said: "We are very pleased the chance has arisen to potentially build the cloisters. As one of the Millennium Commission's capital projects, we were invited to apply for what they called an enhancement grant.

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"We know we have been short-listed but nothing is guaranteed – we won't know for another month."

Mr Allen, who has been involved in the project for seven years, said he hoped the building work, with or without the cloisters, would be completed within 12 months.

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If the bid is approved, the work would bring about a complete turnaround to a few years ago when the decision was made to drop plans for the cloisters due to the high cost of the overall project.

Mr Allen revealed: "The original scheme had to cut a number of things and one of these was the cloisters. We were quite disappointed by this but for a project of this nature, you have to be absolutely certain of what you can afford."

The project has already been awarded more than £5.3 million from the Millennium Commission and a decision about the extra £550,000 is expected next month .

The cloisters will cost about £1.1 million with the rest of the money found from the bequest of former architect Stephen Dykes Bower who was responsible for additions to the building over the previous 40 years.

They will help improve disabled access into the Bury St Edmunds cathedral and provide cover for people using the refectory, meeting rooms and toilets.

Mr Allen said plans for the cloisters were being sent to The Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, which deal with all planning applications for cathedrals.

They would then be submitted to St Edmundsbury Borough Council in preparation for the Lottery body's decision.

Seen as the town's major project to mark the Millennium, the £10.5 million work on completing the cathedral first started in 2001 when Prince Charles laid the first stone.

Since then sightseers have been seen a mass of scaffolding, which will total 20 miles when the tower is completed and culminate in the 150ft structure.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral is the only unfinished Anglican cathedral in England. The nave was built between 1503 and 1551 and altered in the 19th century.

The east end was completely rebuilt in the 1960s but the tower and other works were left unfinished.

A spokeswoman for the Millennium Commission confirmed they had received an application from the project organisers.

She added: "We wrote to all our existing Millennium projects to tell them there was money available to enhance their existing projects.

"We rejected a number of applications last week but the St Edmundsbury Cathedral was not one of those. A final decision should hopefully be made next month ."

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