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Councillors to study business plan for proposed Western Way Development

PUBLISHED: 17:17 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:17 05 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

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The final business case for an ambitious initiative to integrate health, leisure and education services on one site in west Suffolk is to be presented to councillors.

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 multi-million pound Western Way development aims to bring together new leisure, health, education and other public services on one site in Bury St Edmunds.

Members of West Suffolk Council's Cabinet will look at the detailed business plan for the project on Tuesday September 10.

The plan says council capital expenditure on the scheme should not exceed £112 million, funded by borrowing.

If agreed, the council can begin to start applying for planning permission which could unlock further external investment.

Image of the Western Way entrance Picture: PICK EVERARDImage of the Western Way entrance Picture: PICK EVERARD

The next steps will include a further process of looking at finances before any actual decision is made to build.

Under the proposals, Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre, which is 45 years old, would be replaced and a new centre would be integrated with a community health facility.

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Jo Rayner, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Community Hubs at West Suffolk Council, said the scheme was a national leader in how public services could share buildings and work in a joined up way.

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

"Evidence is clear that when services such as health, leisure, education and other public services are put together that not only is it easier to access services but also the outcomes are much better," she said.

"By sharing public services we also open up land they previously occupied for other uses, such as much needed homes.

"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."

The scheme proposes using the steel frame of the depot on Olding Road for the new public service building, to save money and natural resources as well as creating a flexible space that can be built in a phased way and link to existing services at West Suffolk House.

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

Plans also include improvements to highway junctions to cope with an increase in traffic in the local area.

So far, work on exploring the business case has involved Suffolk County Council, central government, all parts of the NHS, Suffolk Constabulary, Abbeycroft Leisure, West Suffolk College and several other partners under the auspices of the Government's One Public Estate Programme.

A public consultation on the draft designs ends on September 10.

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