Glimmer of hope for historic building

By Liz HearnshawHERITAGE watchdogs have welcomed the announcement that developers could be appointed by Christmas to restore a historic building.David Rees, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Society, said urgent action was needed to prevent the town's West Front from falling into even further disrepair.

By Liz Hearnshaw

HERITAGE watchdogs have welcomed the announcement that developers could be appointed by Christmas to restore a historic building.

David Rees, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Society, said urgent action was needed to prevent the town's West Front from falling into even further disrepair.

He predicted buyers would clamour to become the owners of the four homes that could be created in the restored building.


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Three possible developers have shown an interest in the scheme and St Edmundsbury Borough Council will now evaluate their proposals before a partner is chosen.

It is hoped a further announcement regarding the grade I-listed building will be made by Christmas.

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The council is currently spending £1,500 a month on scaffolding protecting the historic structure from the elements

Sara Mildmay-White, council portfolio holder for resources, said: “There is nothing secret about the plans and now we must push on and get on with things to demonstrate to the public we are serious about this.

“There is no way we will pay for the scaffolding for a year and a day and the sooner we sign a deal, the sooner the costs can be passed on.”

Mr Rees added: “Any solution is good, as the place cannot stay as it is. It will deteriorate so quickly and is such a fine building.

“The plastic and scaffolding is hideous and four excellent houses could be created - I cannot believe there will be any problems in selling them at all for a very good price.”

Meanwhile, speculation is mounting over the future of another of the town's historic buildings.

A council review of its museum service has prompted some to question the future of the Manor House Museum, although officials said no plans would be made until the evaluation was completed.

“We have been working on an asset management plan to review all our buildings, their uses and the costs they incur to the taxpayer,” said Mrs Mildmay-White.

“Now we will review the museum service. There is always speculation about the Manor House, but we are waiting to see what the review comes up with.”

But Mr Rees said any possible sell-off of the Manor House Museum would prove a detriment to the town.

“I feel very strongly that it is a jolly good museum with all sorts of uses. Every room is beautiful and it has been beautifully done up with lovely collections, but perhaps more effort could be made in publicising and signposting it,” he added.

“It would be very bad if it was sold off as there would not be the public access there is now - which is so important for a building which is part of our heritage and history.”

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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