Work to start next week on redevelopment of former town centre Post Office to include two ground floor business units and 12 flats

Vox pop at Bury St Edmunds Post Office. To go with story about excessive queuing.

The start of construction on a major West Suffolk Council redevelopment in the heart of Bury St Edmunds town centre will begin next week.

Suffolk company Barnes Construction, has been appointed to carry out the work at 17-18 Cornhill, the site of the former Post Office.

Concertus Design and Property Consultants is the contractor appointed architect and Superstructures is the structural engineer for the scheme, which has been designed to keep the original historic Cornhill front.

The rest of the building including parts which were added on at a later stage, will be demolished and replaced with two ground floor business units and 12 flats above. This in turn will enable the council’s and the public’s ambition to widen the pedestrian walkway at Market Thoroughfare as well as creating a new front onto St Andrews Street South.

The redevelopment is in line with the aspirations of the town centre masterplan which was shaped by 8,000 public comments and follows feedback from a public exhibition of design concepts in 2018. Throughout the design process, the council has continued to work closely with town centre partners, whose input has further shaped the scheme.

Market Thoroughfare will shut from Monday, September 21, to ensure pedestrian safety during the works. People can access the Arc Shopping Centre and the historic town centre via Brentgovel Street, Central Walk and Woolhall Street.

Central Walk will become two-way once more. Social distancing will be managed with people encouraged to stay to their left-hand side as they travel between the Arc and the historic town centre. Barnes will put up hoarding at Cornhill and St Andrews Street South that will help direct people around the town centre and will also include design images showing the final development.

John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “It is a challenging time for many of our residents, businesses and the council, but we are investing in the long term future of the Bury St Edmunds town centre as a place of continuing economic, social and cultural activity.

“Furthermore, we are delivering on what people asked for when they helped shape the vision for the town centre in the masterplan in 2017.

“Once completed this will deliver a much better and wider walkway between the Arc and the historic town centre, as well as a new commercial frontage onto St Andrews Street South and improved access to the historic Cornhill front. The new homes and commercial units, will hopefully also be creating a small level of income which will help toward the day to day services we provide.”

The construction is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

Mark Bailey, director for Barnes Construction said. “We are pleased to have been entrusted to redevelop this important site on Cornhill to become a long-term asset for the town. We are also looking forward to joining with the local business community to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum and the project goes as smoothly as possible.”

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, said: “The widening of the walkway and improving the link between the original town centre and the Arc has been a priority for our members and the public alike, throughout the 10 years of the Arc and it will be good to see this achieved, as well as retaining the wonderful façade of the Post Office. It is good to see that the council is investing in the future of the town centre and we look forward to its completion.”

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