03 Oct 2016
In an age of online shopping, how do you ensure that a town centre, named just a year ago as one of Britain’s top five high streets, continues to be relevant and interesting for decades to come?
That is the challenge that residents, community associations, special interest groups, students and businesses in and around Bury St Edmunds, will be asked to help tackle as part of a public consultation in the spring next year.
It follows the first meeting of the Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan working group – a group comprising representatives of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, the Bury Chamber of Commerce, Bury market traders, the Bury Society, the Bury Town Trust, Bury Town Council, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Suffolk County Council.
Cllr Alaric Pugh, St Edmundsbury’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Growth said: “Bury has one of the best retail, leisure and culture centres in the region and continues to attract people from across Suffolk and neighbouring counties. Our ambition is for our town to continue to be vibrant and prosperous. With or without a masterplan, growth is coming – but a masterplan co-produced by our communities will help us shape how that evolves.
“West Suffolk is a desirable place in which to live and Bury will grow by at least another 5740 homes between 2012 and 2031. We need to look to 2031 and beyond to make sure we have the right mix of town centre retail, leisure and culture, not just to meet demand for our own increasing number of residents, but to continue supporting the local economy by promoting Bury as a place for visitors to come and spend their money.
“We know that there are current pinch points to the parking and roads infrastructure – a masterplan gives us the opportunity to tackle these issues, plan for future growth and ensure that the town centre is accessible for everyone, no matter what their needs.
“It is now 12 years since St Edmundsbury drove forward plans for the arc development and with it our investment in The Apex. Despite opening during the recession in 2009, the arc has been a huge success story, adding modern architecture to the town’s heritage and playing a major role in the vibrancy of the town. We also led on the project to establish a Business Improvement District (BID) for the town. Amongst other things, the BID – Our Bury St Edmunds - now runs a series of popular town centre events, all designed to increase footfall in the town. All of this has established the town’s strong market position and I am glad that St Edmundsbury and a range of town partners have come together to start work on a project that should ensure this success continues long into the future.”