THE VIBRANCY of Bury St Edmunds’ shopping area will be strengthened by major investment to create a new restaurant which will safeguard a building with hidden history.
The Ask Italian company plans to open one of its new Zizzi eateries in a former gift shop in Abbeygate Street and pledged to spend heavily to transform a currently empty property, parts of which date back to the 13th century.
It was formerly the Thing-Me-Bobs gift shop and its return to use has been welcomed as a bonus for the town by the Bid4Bury group whose finance director Keith Senior actually has a business in Abbeygate Street, a busy shopping thoroughfare.
Mr Senior said: “Any new business coming into town is a good thing. It shows people see us as a vibrant town.”
Bid4Bury was looking to increase footfall and business opportunities in Bury St Edmunds from which individual traders could see how they could promote ‘their offer’.
Zizzi is part of the Ask company which already has a restaurant within the Cineworld cinema complex in Parkway.
The two have different styles.
Parkway manager Terri Lea said her establishment was currently being rebranded under a new Ask Italian name, with work on a new image and all new furnishings due for completion in the new year.
The planning application for the conversion of 47 Abbeygate Street from a shop to a restaurantwill be decided by St Edmundbury Borough Council planners.
Zizzi will seek to open from 9am to midnight Mondays to Saturdays and from 10am to 11.30pm Sundays.
A planning report reveals that it is a Grade II listed three-storey building in a conservation area and was formerly two shops and houses.
The front of the building is said to be of high significance, but the whole of the inside is in a very poor state. Significant investment is needed to modernise the commercial requirements of the building.
But the applicant is prepared to invest this and is also keen to retain the heritage features that remain.
It has an early 13th century front, with each half of the property having a long timber-framed rear range.
At one point in its history it was thought to have been the town home of grocer and benefactor John Nottingham, who died in 1437 and who also owned tenements and other houses in the town.
He was an alderman of Bury a number of times and on his death left money to build porches at the west and south doors of St Mary’s Church.