Shopping centre link set for go-ahead

BUSINESSES in a Suffolk town have welcomed the announcement that a new “link” will be built to connect the historic centre with a controversial shopping development.

BUSINESSES in a Suffolk town have welcomed the announcement that a new “link” will be built to connect the historic centre with a controversial shopping development.

A building facing onto Bury St Edmunds Market Square will be knocked down to make way for the new link, while a widening of Market Thoroughfare will connect the new and old shops.

Developer Centros Miller has exchanged contracts to buy the key property in Bury town centre that will be needed.

The move has eased fears of businesses in the town that the Cattle Market redevelopment will force existing independent traders to close as they become more isolated from the shopping hub.

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Chrissie Harrod, president of Bury Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is positive news the developers are making this commitment to the town.

“We are disappointed it won't be finished before the main development but it is none the less positive it is going ahead.

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“It is a huge investment and shows their commitment to the existing town - we feel we have been listened to.”

John Griffiths, St Edmundsbury Borough Council leader and chairman of the Cattle Market redevelopment working party, said: “I hope those who doubted this part of the scheme will feel reassured now that contracts have been exchanged on this important site.

“The news represents another major milestone in the redevelopment of the Cattle Market, and underlines once more our commitment to the vitality of the entire town centre.

“The whole project has taken an exciting and significant step forward as a result of this deal.

“We can now look forward to construction work beginning in the autumn on a scheme which will ensure the prosperity of the whole borough for many years to come.”

Centros Miller is currently preparing to start construction of the Cattle Market in October this year, with completion and opening scheduled for autumn 2008.

The building - between Woolworths and the Post Office on Cornhill - currently houses Top Shop and Stead and Simpson and Centros Miller has contracted to acquire the freehold from the current owners, Land Securities. The deal is to be completed in September this year.

Centros Miller has already arranged for Top Shop to move into new premises within the Cattle Market development, where it will double its existing space. Discussions with Stead and Simpson about its relocation within the town centre are continuing.

Once the construction work on the main scheme is finished and the retailers affected by the link development have relocated to their new premises, the existing building on Cornhill will be demolished.

A new building, containing shops with residential apartments above, will be built in its place.

This will allow Market Thoroughfare to be widened to five metres, with further space provided for window shoppers between the colonnade feature of the new building and its shop fronts.

John Laker, Managing Director of Centros Miller, said: “The purchase of this property was always key to our delivery of this link and further underpins the delivery of our proposals.”

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