St Edmundsbury Borough Council is close to completing a £1.6 million purchase of the former Crown Post Office building in Bury St Edmunds town centre.
The authority is looking at options for the site, on Cornhill, which has been empty since the Post Office moved next door to WH Smith last November.
This is an important and prominent buildingJohn Griffiths
Cllr John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury said: “This is an important and prominent building that fronts onto both The Buttermarket and equally importantly St Andrew’s Street where we all recognize that improvements are needed.
“While the building is sited within the historic town conservation area, ownership could unlock short term and longer term opportunities to make the area, including Market Thoroughfare, more attractive and further boost the offer of the town.
“Another benefit this acquisition will bring is more control over the future of this site at exactly the time when the focus of the town, its aspirations and its success, is being looked at in greater detail through the Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan.
“Once completed, the borough council will look over the coming months at various options including to refurbish and extend the former Post Office building,
using the existing structure.”
The announcement has been welcomed by both OurBuryStEdmunds BID which represents town centre businesses, and the Bury Town Trust.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of OurBuryStEdmunds BID, and the BID’s representative of the Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan working group, said: “Footfall in the town continues to increase year on year and I am hopeful that the work on the Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan will further enhance our offer in the town centre. It is important that this site wasn’t left to deteriorate and I am delighted that the council looks set to acquire the building. I look forward to seeing their plans for the site.”
John Popham, who represents the Bury Town Trust on the council’s Town Centre Masterplan group, said: “This is a significant building within the town centre conservation area, its frontage must be preserved and I am glad that the council is close to securing this site.
“The Town Trust looks forward to working with the council as it considers this site in the context of the ambitions coming forward in the Bury St Edmunds Town Centre Masterplan.
“We expect they will work to convert it in a manner that both enhances the appearance of this area and contributes to the success and vibrancy of the town.”
Martyn Taylor, chairman of the Bury Society, said: “The Bury Society has been concerned that the former Post Office building not be left to fall into decline and that the historic front in the Conservation Area is bought back into use.
“The society welcomes the council’s announcement and the potential that it brings for significant visual improvements to St Andrews Street South and Market Thoroughfare.
“We will await the plans that will come forward for this site with interest.”
Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds said: “The borough council has shown real initiative, acting to secure this strategic site and I welcome this bold and exciting move.”
Cllr Griffiths said: “This is another example of St Edmundsbury continuing to look for investment opportunities which aid the delivery of the masterplans for both Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill as well as the success of our rural areas.
“It is part of our strategic commercial approach to encourage growth and ensure future prosperity for our local communities throughout the Borough and West Suffolk.”
Laura Tarling, from The Post Office, said: “We are pleased to be working towards completion of the sale of this site to St Edmundsbury Borough Council.”