Have your say on nationally ground breaking West Suffolk initiative

24 Jul 2019

WWD 10 main street impression

Residents are being urged to help shape a nationally ground breaking project to deliver better integrated services and outcomes for residents in West Suffolk.

Residents, businesses and local organisations are all being asked to make their views known to help deliver the new Western Way Development in Bury St Edmunds.

If agreed the development would deliver new state of the art community facilities and a nationally ground breaking way to deliver integrated public services, but in a way which is affordable to the taxpayer.

Plans are being drawn up with partners which could bring together new leisure facilities, health, education and other public services with the commercial sector on one site. 

Part of the proposal is a complete replacement and upgrade of the existing Bury St Edmunds leisure centre, which is nearly 45 years old, and shortly in need of considerable investment. The proposals for the new leisure centre integrate it fully with a proposed community health facility and increase the amount of water activities for families with young children which was a particular theme of an earlier consultation.    

It is part of a long term vision for the area and would also attract investment and bring jobs, potentially opening within the next five years.

The outline case suggests the plans would give the opportunity for radical regeneration, transform how services work and produce better outcomes for residents. At the same time the new development aims to reduce costs to the public purse and free up other assets in the area.

It is also suggested that the steel frame of the depot on Olding Road is re-used for the new Public Service building, to save money and natural resources as well as creating a flexible space that can be built in a phased way and will link to existing services at West Suffolk House.

People can make their views known on initial ideas around the use of the building as well as on suggested improvements to highway junctions to cope with an increase in traffic in the local area. Early work shows that the nearest junctions are already busy at peak times and, if nothing is done, even without the new development, delays and queues will get longer over time. The changes proposed to the junctions from Newmarket Road, along Western Way, to the junction with Beetons Way, will help manage not only the traffic to the scheme itself but also this ‘background’ growth on the highway network. The consultation also asks how we can help to avoid the need to travel to the site by car in the first place.

People can find out more and have their say from Friday, 26 July to 10 September online at www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/wwd or at a public exhibition event on a date to be announced.

Cllr Jo Rayner, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Community Hubs at West Suffolk Council, said: “This, if given the go ahead, is an exemplar project nationally on not only how all public  services can share buildings and space but work in a more joined up way to be better than the sum of their parts. Evidence is clear that when services such as health, leisure, education and other public services are put together that not only is it easier to access services but also the outcomes are much better. By sharing public services we also open up land they previously occupied for other uses, such as much needed homes. We want your help to shape some of these ideas including future work on improving the highway in the area. Please make sure you have your say.”

The new site would create opportunities for multiple other partners to join the councils and West Suffolk CCG at the site, in the first or later phases. To date, work on exploring the business case has involved central government, all parts of the NHS, the Police, Abbeycroft Leisure, Sport England, West Suffolk College, the CAB and several other partners under the auspices of the Government’s One Public Estate Programme.

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