Council close to acquiring control of town centre site
27 Oct 2017
St Edmundsbury Borough Council has confirmed that it is close to completing the purchase of an “important and prominent” building in the heart of Bury St Edmunds town centre.
The Council is moving toward securing the purchase of 17-18 Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds, from The Post Office for £1.6m. It will now look at options for the site.
Cllr John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury said: “This is an important and prominent building that fronts onto both The Buttermarket and equally importantly St Andrews Street where we all recognize that improvements are needed. While the building is sited within the historic town conservation area, ownership could unlock short term and longer term opportunities to make the area, including Market Thoroughfare, more attractive and further boost the offer of the town.
“Another benefit this acquisition will bring is more control over the future of this site at exactly the time when the focus of the town, its aspirations and its success, is being looked at in greater detail through the Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan. Once completed, the Borough Council will look over the coming months at various options including to refurbish and extend the former Post Office building, using the existing structure.”
The announcement has been welcomed by both OurBuryStEdmunds BID which represents town centre businesses, and the Bury Town Trust.
Mark Cordell, Chief Executive of OurBuryStEdmunds BID, and the BID’s representative of the Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan working group said: “Footfall in the town continues to increase year on year and I am hopeful that the work on the Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan will further enhance our offer in the town centre. It is important that this site wasn’t left to deteriorate and I am delighted that the Council looks set to acquire the building. I look forward to seeing their plans for the site.”
John Popham who represents the Bury Town Trust on the Council’s Town Centre Masterplan group said: “This is a significant building within the town centre conservation area, its frontage must be preserved and I am glad that the Council is close to securing this site. The Town Trust looks forward to working with the Council as it considers this site in the context of the ambitions coming forward in the Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan. We expect they will work to convert it in a manner that both enhances the appearance of this area and contributes to the success and vibrancy of the town.”
Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds said: “The Borough Council has shown real initiative, acting to secure this strategic site and I welcome this bold and exciting move.”
Martyn Taylor, Chairman of the Bury Society, said: “The Bury Society has been concerned that the former Post Office building should not be left to fall into decline and that the historic front in the Conservation Area should be brought back into use. The Society welcomes the Council’s announcement and the potential that it will bring for significant visual improvements to St Andrews Street South and Market Thoroughfare. We will await the plans that are to come forward for this site with interest.”
The purchase of 17-18 Cornhill in Bury will fit in with St Edmundsbury’s strategy to invest in its town centres, as outlined in its Six Point Plan for Jobs and Growth. In Bury St Edmunds, the Council has already invested in the arc and The Apex both of which have played a significant role in the success of the town, as well as in the underground car park. In Haverhill meanwhile, the Council has invested in the former Co-op building, the cinema and the wider leisure area and public realm, and has already produced a successful Masterplan.
Cllr Griffiths said: “This is another example of St Edmundsbury continuing to look for investment opportunities which aid the delivery of the masterplans for both Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill as well as the success of our rural areas. It is part of our strategic commercial approach to encourage growth and ensure future prosperity for our local communities throughout the Borough and West Suffolk.”
Laura Tarling from The Post Office said: “We are pleased to be working towards completion of the sale of this site to St Edmundsbury Borough Council.”