Major improvements to Bury St Edmunds town centre approved by councillors
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A “landmark development” to improve Bury St Edmunds historic town centre including a widened link between the Arc shopping centre and the old quarter have been approved.
St Edmundsbury borough councillors voted in favour of the £6.72million investment to redevelop 17-18 Cornhill – the site of the town’s former post office.
The borough council completed the purchase of the historic building for £1.6million in October last year.
The council, which has been working alongside representatives of town centre business organisations and conservation groups, says it is aiming to deliver dramatic improvements to the area – which local residents and businesses asked for during the public engagement on the town centre masterplan last year.
Further work will now take place ahead of a public exhibition in late June.
A widened walkway between the Arc shopping centre and the rest of the town centre has been a long-standing issue with the argument that some visitors to Bury St Edmunds do not know both parts of the old and new town exist.
A new shop front onto St Andrews Street South will also be created in the “exciting” plans.
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John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “This is a landmark development which we believe will excite local residents and businesses, and ignite the imaginations of landowners and investors. It is a decade since the arc developers tried to deliver a wider link at Market Thoroughfare.
“Through a similar level of investment, we are looking not only to deliver a better, widened walkway, but so much more.
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“By acting swiftly to purchase the building last year, we have gained a control that we never had all those years ago.
“That also means that we can assure our community that the beautiful, historic frontage, which sadly isn’t listed, will be kept and improved.
“There will also be a bold statement in terms of the design onto St Andrews Street South where we will create a new shop front.
“It will look quite stark, but that is the purpose – to act as a catalyst for others to invest in delivering dramatic improvements that will help transform this important street into something far more vibrant and attractive.”
Alaric Pugh, cabinet member for planning and growth, said: “It has long been an ambition of this council to deliver a wider Market Thoroughfare not only to make the town centre more coherent but to ensure that there’s strong footfall from the arc to the historic town centre and vice versa.
“The wider link and calls for improvements to St Andrews Street South were two of the key things that people asked for in the masterplan engagement.
“We didn’t have ownership over any of the buildings required to make it happen in the past. We now do.
“All of that has come at the same time that the council has a new dynamic growth investment strategy – one that allows us to look at a scheme that is break even, one that no commercial investor would consider, but one where we can see the wider social and economic benefits that we can deliver for our residents and businesses.
“We have been liaising throughout with representatives of town centre businesses and conservation groups – all of this with the shared aim of ensuring that people continue to enjoy coming to Bury St Edmunds to live, to work, to shop and to enjoy their leisure time, for decades to come.”