Cattle Market re-vamp 'over budget'

A £12MILLION public building at the heart of a massive shopping, housing and leisure development in a Suffolk town could exceed its budget, it was warned last night.

Will Clarke

A £12MILLION public building at the heart of a massive shopping, housing and leisure development in a Suffolk town could exceed its budget, it was warned last night.

Council chiefs are now hoping confidential negotiations with contractors will help to cut the costs of the entertainment venue - which will be a central feature of the Arc scheme in Bury St Edmunds.

But bosses have assured that quality is key to the project and will not be compromised.

Sara Mildmay-White, chairman of St Edmundsbury's working party for the scheme, which is on the site of the town's former cattle market, would not rule out the borough council digging deeper to ensure the excellence of the venue.

And further grants from the East of England Development Agency, which has already pledged £1million for the building, could bridge the financial gap.

Most Read

Mrs Mildmay-White said the council had submitted a “wish-list” to contractors but she emphasised changes, including alterations to the plans for lighting on the stage, would not make a visible difference.

She said: “Everything is up for discussion but the bottom line is quality. We won't compromise on quality but we have to be pragmatic.

“Any changes will be changes no one will notice and they won't alter the fundamental look of the venue.

“There are little things we can tweak. For example we spoke to the Theatre Royal about the lighting and we were told the original system wouldn't be necessary.”

Another change being considered by the council would be replacing solid wood fittings with veneers, which Mrs Mildmay-White said was being negotiated with the authority's preferred contractor.

Simon Pott, chairman of the Bury Society, which has been critical of the secrecy surrounding the plans for the venue, said he was anxious it was “done well”.

“Quality and first impressions are crucial,” he said. “It is terribly important that when the venue is open it has a wow factor.

“It is realistic we won't necessarily need solid wood fittings and there will be savings to be made on the lighting but if they skimp it will be the first to show.”

A spokeswoman for the council said the confidentiality of the council's discussions where fully justified to protect the council's negotiating position.

A date has not been set for the opening of the venue, which sits at the centre of the £100million Arc shopping development and is due to be completed by next spring.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter