A community led project to replace a community centre, generate funds to spend on local schools and provide new homes in Bury St Edmunds has won Government backing.
The Government announced this week that £670,000 has been awarded to the redevelopment of the former Howard Primary School and the Newbury Community Centre on the Howard Estate.
The money is to speed up delivery of new homes on the council owned sites, and will be used to help with things like demolition costs.
The grant, from the One Public Estate programme’s Land Release Fund, follows a joint bid for that amount from site owners Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council.
Barbara Bannister, from the Newbury Community Association, which is leading on the project said: “This is brilliant news for the local community. This is a major step towards delivering on our ambitions for a modern day community centre shaped to the needs of our local residents, as well as more affordable homes in the area.”
Councillor Paul Hopfensperger, St Edmundsbury ward member for the area, said: “I’ve been delighted to have been involved with this from the start. The community shaped the project through two stages of public consultation. This successful funding bid means that we can now get on with delivering these much need facilities.”
Councillor Robert Everitt, St Edmundsbury Cabinet Member for Families and Communities, represents the estate on Suffolk County Council.
He said: “The aim of the two councils has always been to help support the NCA toward achieving its ambitions and the scheme has gained wide community support. This was recognised by the Government who not only awarded the full bid, but who also praised the community innovation, engagement and ambition in the project.”
Councillor Robin Millar, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Families and Communities, said: “Our role is about helping communities help themselves and this project and all the work that has gone into it is a great example of that. The Land Release Fund aims to support building strong communities, and this is a key milestone towards helping them achieve their ambitions.”
The project already has outline permission for a new community centre and 79 new homes.
Following the funding decision, the NCA supported by the two councils, will seek a developer partner who will in turn submit a planning application for detailed consent. It is envisaged that subject to all this, work should start on site within the next year.