Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan

Bury St Edmunds marketOver the summer we will be asking people to comment on a draft masterplan for Bury St Edmunds town centre.

Earlier this year, residents, town centre workers, shoppers, students and visitors were all asked to give their views on the issues that face Bury St Edmunds town centre both now and in the future, and how they may be addressed.

This was the first stage of developing a masterplan for the town centre.

The aims of the masterplan are to ensure that the town centre is equipped to accommodate and coordinate the future growth not just of Bury St Edmunds but of the wider local area that it serves, so that it continues to be successful at meeting the needs of residents and visitors by providing a strong mix of retail, culture, leisure and social activity. The masterplan will also set the guidelines and framework for future development in the town centre so it is accomplished in a joined up approach that is based on what the town wants and needs.

A mass public engagement exercise was held to encourage people to give their views which could then be considered when the draft town centre masterplan is shaped. The outcome saw 1143 people and community-based groups and organisations take part in a Bury St Edmunds survey. Those surveys have now been collated and the suggestions recorded.

The top three issues highlighted by those who took part in the survey were the need to:

  • preserve the unique local identity and character of the town centre (76%)
  • preserve and enhance the historic buildings and spaces (68%)
  • improve the links between the arc shopping centre and the old town centre (55%)

People were also asked what they would like to see more of in the town centre and the following ranked as the most popular:

  • independent shops (80%)
  • cultural events and facilities (54%)
  • independent cafes and restaurants (45%)

When it came to housing, the majority (58%) said they would like to see housing that is affordable – although 15% said they would prefer to see no more town centre housing at all.

Less than half (47%)  want more car parking but 60 percent did call for more attractive pedestrian and cycle routes in and around the town centre and just under three quarters (71%) said they would like improved access to green and open spaces.

The questionnaire included white boxes which offered a chance for people to write in more detail. In total 5857 suggestions for improvements across the town centre were made. The top ten reoccurring suggestions called for:

  • more seating and social meeting areas
  • pedestrianisation of parts of the town centre
  • better routes for cyclists and pedestrians into and around the town
  • better pavements
  • more planters, trees and floral displays
  • park and ride or similar facility
  • more toilets
  • more bins
  • a better bus service
  • improved pedestrian safety

Members of the working group joined people with a range of disabilities for a tour of the town centre. The aim of the tour was to listen to and better understand the accessibility issues that they face as they move around the town centre. The feedback from that tour, alongside the comments received in the issues and options questionnaire are now being used to shape the draft masterplan that comes forward.

Cabinet meeting Tuesday 27 June - report (including an appendix with all comments made)

So what happens next?

All of the responses received will be considered as we prepare the draft masterplan – a planning document which once adopted will help govern where and what type of development happens, and which can be used both to encourage investment in the town centre and to form a strategy of council led improvements.

That draft masterplan will go back out to the public in the summer, offering a chance for Bury St Edmunds residents, town centre workers, shoppers and visitors to comment and further shape what will eventually become the adopted masterplan.

We anticipate that this second stage of public engagement will be from late July and we will be planning more town centre and supermarket drop-in events to make it even easier for people to have their say. More details on this will be published nearer the time through our social media channels, the local media and on this page.

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The Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan is supported by a working group comprising representatives of OurBuryStEdmunds Business Improvement District, the Suffolk Chamber in Bury St Edmunds, Bury St Edmunds market traders, The Bury Society, the Bury St Edmunds Town Trust, Bury St Edmunds Town Council, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Suffolk County Council, working alongside urban design and town planning specialists David Lock Associates and Peter Brett Associates.