Bury St Edmunds public services hub delayed as fresh look at business case confirmed
PUBLISHED: 07:30 20 November 2020 | UPDATED: 11:21 20 November 2020
West Suffolk Council/Pick Everard
The business case for a public services hub in Bury St Edmunds at the former Olding Road depot must be reviewed before the next steps can proceed, it has been confirmed.
West Suffolk Council at a scrutiny committee meeting last week confirmed the Covid-19 pandemic meant the Western Way public services hub plans, which would feature council services, sports facilities, health services and advice and education provision under one roof, will need a fresh look.
That business case review is currently taking place, with an updated report going to cabinet in February.
MORE: Western Way public services hub secures planning permission
Alex Wilson from the council stressed that all of the partner organisations were still on board, but elements such as the amount of office space and the NHS’s plans would need a fresh assessment as a result of the pandemic.
It means that the project, which secured planning permission in August this year, is unlikely to be completed until 2024.
Mr Wilson said: “It’s definitely seen as a major part of any recovery strategy, a project of this scale.
“We are still getting a sense there is a strong commercial interest in the project but it might be in different ideas.
“The building can really be whatever we need it to be, and the value of having done that is becoming ever more prevalent.
“We are currently working with all the partners, particularly the NHS, between now and Christmas to review the business case.”
He added: “One of the positive impacts of Covid-19 is to highlight that this scheme is more important than ever.
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“We still have strong commitment from all partners, and additional partners looking to get involved.”
It is understood the £110million project plans were designed to be flexible according to the needs of each of the partner organisations, such as voluntary organisations, NHS and police, which means any changes to elements such as the amount of office space can be accommodated.
Meanwhile, work on the Mildenhall Hub project is continuing, with completion now expected in the spring next year instead of the December or January opening this winter as anticipated.
Contractor R G Carter has put together a video tour of the site for partners, as in-person tours cannot take place while social distancing requirements are still in place.
A dedicated plan to open in the spring with necessary social distancing requirements is being put together.
The hub will feature a new school for Mildenhall College Academy, leisure facilities, library, advice centre, council, police and NHS services.
Other West Suffolk projects to have been impacted by the pandemic include the Newmarket cinema development, the St Andrew’s Street South town centre masterplan in Bury St Edmunds and the Haverhill town centre masterplan.
According to the council, Newmarket cinema will remain on hold until more certainty about the cinema industry and borrowing rates of the Public Works Loan Board are established, while the St Andrew’s Street South masterplan remains under review.
MORE: Brandon Leisure Centre £1.9m revamp confirmed
Feasibility work for the Haverhill masterplan will continue once the second lockdown has been lifted.
In Bury St Edmunds, work on-site has begun at the former Post Office renovation, while a £1.9million revamp of Brandon Leisure Centre has also been given the green light to commence.
Other developments continuing include the Newmarket Leisure Centre upgrades and the Newbury Community Centre project.
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