New look for town's Corn Exchange
By Lisa CleverdonIT boasts some of the most historic buildings in East Anglia, but some strikingly modern structures could be added to its skyline.Bury St Edmunds has been made famous by the likes of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Abbeygate, Moyse's Hall Museum and the Theatre Royal.
By Lisa Cleverdon
IT boasts some of the most historic buildings in East Anglia, but some strikingly modern structures could be added to a town's skyline.
Bury St Edmunds has been made famous by the likes of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Abbeygate, Moyse's Hall Museum and the Theatre Royal.
But there are already plans on the drawing board for two new, modern buildings - a public entertainment venue and a department store - as part of the Cattle Market redevelopment.
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Now plans have been unveiled to transform the historic Corn Exchange into a state-of-the art centre of excellence for the visual arts.
It is hoped the Corn Exchange will eventually become home to the town's art gallery, which will relocate from its current Market Cross location if the plan for a new public building on the Cattle Market are given the go-ahead.
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More than 70 people have attended a special meeting to get the first glimpse at the designs and the architects said they were confident their plans would turn the 142-year-old building into an exciting place to visit.
But some people have yet to be convinced and have reservations about the ambitious scheme's success amid fears over where the £3.9million needed to fund it will come from.
Among those present at the meeting was Bury St Edmunds town councillor, Robert Corfe, who said he believed the design was influenced by the “aesthetics of buildings found in post-war Germany”.
He added: “I fully endorse the plans for the interior of the building and I am completely in favour of having a gallery in the town.
“But I am very concerned that the plans will greatly spoil the effect on the local conservation area and there are certain aspects of the design which I think completely ruin the appearance of the building.”
Richard Ward, director of the Suffolk Preservation Society, said his members had always supported the need for the redevelopment of the building subject to the right designs.
“I think these plans form the basis for discussions, although we would not lend our full support to them at this early stage,” he added.
“The main concern we have is the appearance of the building, which we do not feel is contemporary enough.
“You will find designs, such as the one being proposed here, in any market town and we feel as though this building needs to stand out and be significantly different from the rest.”
Susan Sollohub, of the town's development watchdog group, the Bury Society, said: “We feel this is good news for the art gallery, which needs to expand, and we welcome the contemporary design, but we have to be practical and we do have reservations with regards to the cost of the work.”
Members of the Art Gallery Trust said moving to the Corn Exchange was the only option available to it.
They believed the plans would “make wonderful use of a significant town centre building and will be a popular facility for local people”.
The Corn Exchange renovation includes provision for a craft shop, a rooftop café, space for exhibitions and a seminar area to be used by groups and companies.