Town centre's £75m scheme nears reality

A MASSIVE £75million retail development which promises to change the face of a market town forever could be approved within weeks and open to shoppers in only three years.

A MASSIVE £75million retail development which promises to change the face of a market town forever could be approved within weeks and open to shoppers in only three years.

Planning applications for the derelict Cattle Market site in Bury St Edmunds will be lodged today - paving the way for construction on the 12-acre parcel of land to begin in the middle of next year.

The huge development will be the biggest single construction scheme to affect the town since its famous Abbey was built in the 1000s and 1100s.

It will include an 85,000 square foot Debenhams department store, around 35 other retail units, residential flats and a public building for concerts, conferences and other events.


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And although officials from St Edmundsbury Borough Council - which is masterminding the scheme - are remaining tight-lipped regarding possible stores which may be attracted to the new quarter, a range of names "never seen in the town before" are said to be interested.

"This is the next major stop of probably what is the biggest single challenge, change and opportunity facing St Edmundsbury in this century," said John Griffiths, leader of the council.

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"It is important that we get this right. It is fraught with difficulties and opportunities, but is immensely exciting.

"We must ensure the project successfully adds to and enhances what we already have in the lovely town of Bury.

"Doing nothing is frankly not an option. We have been warned that if we do not improve our retail offering, our traders will lose out to neighbouring areas like Cambridge and Ipswich.

"Therefore this is both an exciting opportunity to make things better and a necessary thing to make sure Bury thrives in the future as it has in the past."

The total cost of the project is expected to run to in excess of £75million, with the council investing £14million into the public building and car parking provision.

And the planning applications relating to the site will be submitted today by developers Centros Miller, with a decision on them expected in July following extensive public consultation.

During this time, local people will be asked their opinions on the plans through leaflets, exhibitions and a website display.

Tony Williams, development manager of Centros Miller, said: "Through extensive consultation with the people of Bury and close liaison with the council, we feel that this design marries the town's historical character with the very best of 21st Century architecture.

"The proposal holds the key to Bury maintaining its place as a desirable shopping destination.

"As nearby cities and towns grow, it is vital that Bury embraces this opportunity to create an exciting new quarter, which will help attract more people to the area and support the local economy for years to come."

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