Fears over cost of town's West Front
INDECISION over the future of a slice of Suffolk's history is costing tax payers thousands of pounds a year, it has been revealed.Since January, St Edmundsbury Borough Council has been paying £1,500 a month for scaffolding around the Grade I listed West Front in Bury St Edmunds, in an attempt to slow their deterioration.
INDECISION over the future of a slice of Suffolk's history is costing tax payers thousands of pounds a year, it has been revealed.
Since January, St Edmundsbury Borough Council has been paying £1,500 a month for scaffolding around the Grade I listed West Front in Bury St Edmunds, in an attempt to slow their deterioration.
Authority bosses say the decision was taken to help prevent weather damage to the ancient structures, which have now been placed on the Buildings At Risk Register.
For years the fate of the monuments, which lie in the shadow of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, has hung in the balance, and their future was dealt a further blow after a prospective developer was refused permission to carry out vital restoration work.
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Heritage group the Bury Society spoke of its concern at the lack of progress being made in restoring the houses to their former glory, and called for action to be taken before it is too late.
Society member Susan Sollohub said: “The fate of the homes appears unresolved although we understand that the borough council, which owns the buildings, English Heritage and the would-be-developer Mike Spenser-Morris have been in communication with each other again.”
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The temporary scaffolding supports the roof across the buildings in the West Front, protecting them from rain and enabling any repairs to be carried out.
The houses contain the medieval flint core remains of the 11th century Benedictine Abbey.
Prior to planning permission being turned down, Mr Spenser-Morris, on behalf of NHP Developments Ltd signed a development agreement with the council, although he has until next month to appeal against the decision to refuse listed building consent.
Mrs Sollohub said: “The condition of the houses is getting worse as time goes on and the society feels that the longer they go without being repaired the more difficult the situation is going to become.
“The houses are of such importance to the town and the uncertainty of their future has gone on for so long, that our only aim is to see them returned to what they once were.”
A spokesman for the council said: “In providing the scaffolding we are following our statutory duty to protect the Grade I listed buildings whilst discussions with the developer continue.
“The price negotiated with contractors for the scaffolding was very competitive.”