Two rival futures for town centre landmark

A LANDMARK building in the centre of an historic market town could either become a pub or a children’s play centre, it has emerged.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is looking for a future use of the Corn Exchange building in Bury St Edmunds which will become surplus to requirements when The Apex centre on the former Cattle Market site opens later this year.

The council opened a bidding process for those with potential plans for the Corn Exchange to come forward and present their ideas.

As a result, the council has drawn up a shortlist of just two options.

One has been put forward by Abbeycroft Leisure, to which the council has continued to make contributions to support its running of leisure centres in Bury and Haverhill, and that would see the Corn Exchange turned into a “soft play” and activity centre for children plus a community cafe.

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The other bid has been made by the pub giant JD Wetherspoon to turn the building into a drinking establishment.

The presentation of the two-handed shor-tlist comes just weeks after the council turned down its own planning application to turn the Corn Exchange into a pub on the grounds that it would result in an “unacceptable intensification” of the building’s use.

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The council’s cabinet will next week decide whether or not to pursue the two options for more throrough investigation.

In their report to the cabinet, officers Betty Albon and Alex Wilson said mothballing the building would cost �30,000 a year.

“The Corn Exchange is in a prominent town centre site and its future uses are important to the community. It is desirable to ensure that the proposed tenants maintain the fabric and appearance of this listed building through active management of the responsibilities contained in the leases, they said in the report. “The council has a duty to local taxpayers to ensure the best value is obtained from its property assets.”

The cabinet will discuss the issue at its meeting on Wednesday.

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