Green light for conversion of former health centre into flats and offices
Plans to convert a former health centre in Bury St Edmunds into flats and offices have been given the green light by council planners.
The proposal for the former Blomfield House Health Centre, on the corner of Looms Lane and Lower Baxter Street, was approved by West Suffolk Council on Wednesday.
The application proposes a two-storey rear extension, penthouse extension and the conversion of the now vacant three-storey building to provide nine two-bedroom apartments and seven office suites.
Bury St Edmunds Town Council did not object to the plans, but the Bury Society, an organisation which cares for the town's heritage and future, did raise concerns.
The group said it was not convinced of the viability or long-term sustainability of office use at the location, and also highlighted concerns over the scale, bulk and appearance of the development.
The society also said that it was incongruous to have shared access corridors and dedicated fire escape routes common to commercial and residential use.
But officers recommended approval for the plans, concluding that the principle and detail of the application complied with local and national planning policy.
Applicants M&D Developments purchased the building from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust after the building was put on the market by Whybrow Chartered Surveyors and Property Consultants in October 2017.
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Whybrow said it received a number of offers from developers and all were intending to seek a change of use and general redevelopment of the site.
David Harris, of M&D developments, said: “We're very pleased. We worked closely with Charlotte Waugh, the council planning officer, to deliver it and we're delighted that the scheme got approval.
“We're looking to start work as soon as possible and I would hope we would be on-site within three months.
“It's in an important location right in the centre of town and has car parking, which is an added attraction.”
In the application, it also was stated that the change of use from health centre to residential and offices would result in a “vast reduction” of vehicle activity in the area.
The design and access statement read: “The previous use of the building as a health centre created a very high intensity of vehicular movement resulting from numerous short daily appointments.
“The basic function of a health centre dictates that the majority of visitors have to drive or be driven to and from the site.
“Changing this to residential and office use would result in a vast reduction in vehicular activity in both Looms Lane and Lower Baxter Street.”