After 20 events held across two periods of public engagement resulting in more than 8,000 public comments, and many subsequent amendments, the final version of the Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan will go before councillors to adopt next month.
The masterplan looks to shape how and where growth will happen in the town centre, to improve where improvements are needed and protect the things that people love best about the town centre.
An issues and options consultation back in February to April asked people to help identify the challenges facing the town centre and how they might be addressed. That led to more than 1,100 responses and nearly 6,000 individual comments.
Public suggestions including pedestrianisation or part pedestrianisation of The Buttermarket and Cornhill were then brought together in the shape of a draft masterplan that looked at different character areas of the town centre and themed the issues around Movement, Activity and Place. That in turn saw 400 responses and more than 2,000 separate comments – all of which have now been published online as part of a report to next week’s cabinet meeting. The online report also contains responses from the masterplan team to each of the public comments.
The majority of public responses were in favour of the proposals for eight of the nine character areas. The one area where the majority of people objected related to the redevelopment of the bus station in St Andrews quarter and the revised masterplan now includes the improvement of bus access and facilities for the town.
Alaric Pugh is chairman of a masterplan working group that includes representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Improvement District, Bury Market Traders, Bury Society, Bury Town Trust, Bury Town Council and Suffolk County Council.
He said: “We have sought to engage as many people as possible in shaping this masterplan by taking it to them in the supermarkets, the market, the library and other venues. We engaged more than 24,000 local residents through social media and encouraged everyone, whether a town resident, worker, shopper or visitor to have their say about their town centre. We have listened. The plan has been amended accordingly, but the journey doesn’t end here.
“We recognise for instance, that despite the call for pedestrianisation coming from and being backed by the majority of those who took part in this, that there are concerns from those who represent local businesses. The masterplan has set the vision, the ambition and the direction for what people want their town to become, but of course we need to be careful that this achieves what it set out to do – ensuring the success of our town centre for years to come as a place people use for work, leisure, to shop and to live in. So there will be considerable further work, including research and consultation, to investigate the impact of different types of improvements for pedestrians and optimal use of town centre space for all users including, very importantly, all businesses.
“That is why, if the masterplan receives full council endorsement as I hope it will, we will have a delivery plan and we will be forming a delivery group with our partners, to look at who will bring forward each scheme – for instance will it be something that the council enables by speaking to private landowners and investors or do others have particular interests and responsibilities. That delivery plan will also spell out which of these projects will be prioritised, which will be longer term ambitions, and who we will consult as we look to take each project forward. The masterplan has been developed by listening to people and acting on what they say, we look forward to further public involvement of this kind as each project moves forward. It’s your town has never seemed a truer slogan.”
On Tuesday, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Cabinet will be recommended to approve that the revised masterplan go to full council to adopt on December 19.
The report including an appendix containing the comments received during the draft masterplan consultation, can be found atwww.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bsemasterplan-responses