D-Day looms for Cattle Market scheme

By Benedict O'ConnorA DECISION date is looming for the future of a controversial £75million scheme to transform the heart of a historic town.More than 20 years since the plan was first mooted, a special meeting has finally been called for councillors to determine the planning application to transform Bury St Edmunds' Cattle Market into a major shopping centre.

A DECISION date is looming for the future of a controversial £75million scheme to transform the heart of a historic town.

More than 20 years since the plan was first mooted, a special meeting has finally been called for councillors to determine the planning application to transform Bury St Edmunds' Cattle Market into a major shopping centre.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council's planning committee will meet at the Athenaeum on Angel Hill on February 21 to decide whether the scheme submitted by developers Centros Miller should be allowed to go ahead.

A lengthy debate is expected over what has been dubbed the most significant development in the town since its medieval centre was laid out and on which opinion has been divided.


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Andrew Varley, chairman of the council's Cattle Market redevelopment working party, said: "This is the culmination of many years' work and consultation and we know that the committee who judge it will be acting in the best interests of the borough and will be strictly acting to planning considerations."

Mr Varley added the meeting would be one of the most significant in the town's recent history and would have serious ramifications for years to come.

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The development will comprise 35 new shops, a new public building and venue, residential flats and a Debenhams department store.

A previous plan to build on the site, which was expected to be completed in 1995, was scrapped in the early 1990s.

When the Cattle Market ceased to operate as a livestock auction in 1998 the council began looking for a new developer and appointed Centros Miller in 2001, since when the site has been dogged by controversy and opposition from concerned residents, business groups and conservationists.

Councillors will also be asked on Thursday to decide on the redevelopment of the market thoroughfare, the main pedestrian access to the Cattle Market site from the centre of town.

Council officers have recommended that the existing buildings that flank the passageway, including Top Shop and Corals bookmakers, should be demolished and remodelled to widen access.

Although this will form a major gateway to the Cattle Market development, councillors have been asked to treat it as a separate entity that would enhance the town's character.

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