Consultation on the masterplan for Bury St Edmunds town centre starts today (Monday)
An eight-week consultation has begun online and at venues across the town (see below) to gather views on how a town centre masterplan should look.
Launching the consultation Alaric Pugh, St Edmundsbury Cabinet member for planning and growth, urged people to take part.
The masterplan is part of the Vision 2031 borough plan and will be a legal planning document used to support planning decisions.
Cllr Pugh said: “Often masterplans are devised by developers or are imposed by local authorities but this plan is being developed by Bury itself.”
A working party has been set up comprising town, borough and county councillors and representatives from organisations including the Bury Society and Town Trust, OurBuryStEdmunds, market traders and the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds Partnership led by the cathedral.
They have been working with consultants to produce the draft plan people are invited to comment on.
Cllr Pugh said response to Haverhill’s town centre plan consultation had been greater than expected and Chris Rand, principal planning officer, admitted: “The document it produced wasn’t the same as the plan we would have come up with.
“Having people involved in the process from day one produces a much more robust plan.”
The plan aims to support growth while protecting the historical and public amenity aspects of the town centre.
A significant target is providing attractive ‘gateways’ to the town. Mr Rand highlighted the ‘not all that welcoming’ view when arriving at the bus station and the ‘barriers’ Parkway and Tayfen Road create for pedestrians.
It also calls for better links between the arc and Cornhill.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of OurBuryStEdmunds said: “We want to make sure Bury town centre remains attractive for people to come to and for people to start businesses.”
Simon Burton, vice-chairman of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Bury, said: “We are supportive and very much in favour of any initiative that looks towards ensuring sufficient infrastructure is considered and in place for the future.”
Andrew Speed, chairman of Bury Town Council said: “This masterplan is the town’s opportunity to shape it’s own future and manage growth. The town council has written to all residents inviting them to comment in the consultation. It is an exciting time, now is the time for people to have their say.”
John Popham, chairman of Bury St Edmunds Town Trust, said: “We welcome the plan. With all the growth that’s taking place we need to actively plan for the future of the town centre if it’s to continue to be prosperous and its heritage buildings and open spaces are to be preserved.”
While the easiest way to view and comment on the masterplan is online, hard copies will be available at several places and a series of events is planned.
To view it online visit www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bsemasterplan
Hard copies will also be available at: West Suffolk House, The Apex, Bury Library, West Suffolk College and Bury Leisure Centre.
Information leaflets will be available at: The Athenaeum, Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Risbygate Street, Skyliner Leisure Centre, Moyse’s Hall Museum and St Edmundsbury Cathedral tourist information point.
Consultation events planned so far are at: Bury St Edmunds Market on March 8 and April 8, 8am to 3pm; The Apex, March 8, 6pm to 8pm: Tesco Superstore, St Saviours Interchange, March 9, 10am to 5pm;·Sainsbury’s, Bedingfeld Way, March 17, 10am to 5pm; Waitrose, Robert Boby Way, March 24, 10am to 5pm; Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre, April 7, 10am to 5pm.
The consultation runs until April 21. The views gathered will be used to create a draft plan which will also be put up for consultation.
The final plan should be approved this winter.