The opening of a dramatically improved walkway, connecting the arc with the historic town centre has taken place in Bury St Edmunds this morning (22 February 2023).
Market Thoroughfare has been closed for two and a half years while West Suffolk Council’s chosen contractor Barnes Construction worked on redeveloping the former site of the Post Office at 17-18 Cornhill. That redevelopment is in the final stages with a completion date expected for March.
Part of the redevelopment has seen ground-floor commercial space given over to the public realm enabling the width of the walkway to be increased by over 50 per cent to 3.8m.
Cllr John Griffiths, Leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “Today, we have reopened a walkway and dramatically improved it. It is more than 50 per cent wider at ground floor level, while the clever design with the second archway from Cornhill and the glass windows of the commercial units makes the space much lighter and brighter. What’s more, we hope that it will not only prompt further improvements from neighbouring landowners but also benefit businesses and people in the town.
“I would like to thank all involved and especially our town centre businesses represented through Our Bury St Edmunds and the arc as well as shoppers and visitors, for their patience and support during these works.”
Once complete, the redevelopment itself delivers 12 new apartments and two commercial units.
Cllr Sarah Broughton, Cabinet Member for Resources and Property said: “As we move closer to completion on this exciting redevelopment, the reopening of Market Thoroughfare now enables prospective business tenants and people interested in buying the remaining apartments, to see more of the redevelopment in its splendour. We have some significant interest in the commercial units while we are pushing for a completion date so we can also finalise the sale of the apartments with nine of the 12 currently under offer.”
As well as widening Market Thoroughfare, the redevelopment keeps and brings back into use, the Victorian front to Cornhill, while a new frontage has been created onto St Andrews Street South, in what is hoped will prove a catalyst of private landowners and developers to further enhance the street scene.
The new building is environmentally friendlier than the old Post Office building. It has been built with enhanced energy efficiency in mind including new windows, solar panels and an air source heat pump.
Throughout the project, the council has sought the input from representatives of town centre groups including The Bury Society, Bury St Edmunds Town Trust, Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, the arc, Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership, Bury St Edmunds Town Council and Suffolk County Council.
Cllr Susan Glossop, Cabinet Member for Growth at West Suffolk Council said: “Improving this connection between the arc and the Cornhill and Buttermarket through a wider walkway was one of the key things that people asked us to deliver in the 8,000 public comments we received when we consulted on the town centre masterplan in 2017. We had overwhelming public support to some early concept designs at a public exhibition in 2018 and the input that we have received from our town centre partners has been invaluable which is why we are celebrating this fantastic achievement with them today.”
New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership was awarded £32.1m through the Government’s Getting Building Fund, including £2.75m for the Cornhill project.
C-J Green, Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s so rewarding to see this new-look thoroughfare reopened and such a boost for businesses and visitors alike.
“Town centres like this need to make themselves as attractive and navigable as possible to maximise footfall and this project better connects the historic part of Bury St Edmunds and the arc shopping centre.”
For more on the project visit www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/cornhill