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Multi-million pound development in Bury St Edmunds moves a step closer

PUBLISHED: 10:56 02 November 2018

Map of the proposed multi-million pound development Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS/PICK EVERARD

Map of the proposed multi-million pound development Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS/PICK EVERARD

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A detailed business case will be drawn up for a multi-million pound development in Bury St Edmunds that could bring leisure, health and educations services onto one site.

An artist's impression of the proposed development Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS/PICK EVERARDAn artist's impression of the proposed development Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS/PICK EVERARD

Members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council have unanimously agreed for detailed plans to be worked up for nationally ground-breaking proposals to deliver integrated public services and build new state-of-the-art leisure facilities at Western Way.

An outline business case has already been drawn up for the proposed development, with cost estimates of the scheme around the £100 to £125million mark.

The current Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre and swimming pool in Beetons Way could also be moved within the site to integrate with health services.

The leisure centre would stay open while the new bigger and better one is developed, eventually releasing land for much-needed student accommodation and parking.

An artist's impression inside the development Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS/PICK EVERARDAn artist's impression inside the development Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS/PICK EVERARD

The outline business case also suggested that the steel frame of the depot on Olding Road is re-used for the new public service building, saving money and resources as well as creating a flexible space that can be built in a phased way and will link to West Suffolk House.

John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that councillors unanimously backed these proposals going forward for more detailed work.

“This is an exciting opportunity to deliver services in a much more joined up way while regenerating this area of Bury St Edmunds to improve the health, education and prosperity of our residents.

“This is nationally ground breaking and brings public and private partners together. Evidence shows where you put education, health, leisure and other public services together they achieve more than the sum of their parts.

“It is much more than bricks and mortar and where people sit. It is how we work together and make it much easier for people to access services.

“Partners have already indicated their willingness to be part of these plans and help progress them, with health colleagues in particular already indicating they would like to move.

“We already work closely with partners in West Suffolk House, sharing offices and expertise, and this is the logical next step.”

Councillors agreed the proposals should only go ahead if that final business case shows that there is a workable highways plan, the finances stack up and the project at least breaks even for the council as developer. The council will also look at external funding and other sources of finance.

Mr Griffiths added: “This has been a long-term ambition and part of the master plan for the site. It is obvious that doing nothing is not an option and we have the opportunity to not only transform local services but invest in new and improved leisure facilities for the community.

“It also means we can keep leisure facilities open while the new ones are being developed.

“I welcome the council’s decision to support us driving forward and developing a detailed business case that will be considered next year.”

The report said that doing nothing was not an option on the site as the leisure centre needs refurbishment and the depot buildings will become empty.

The new site would create opportunities for multiple other partners to join the councils and West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group at the site, in the first or later phases.

To date, work on exploring the business case has involved all parts of the NHS, the police, Abbeycroft Leisure, West Suffolk College, Citizens Advice and several other partners under the auspices of the Government’s One Public Estate Programme.

Which partners will be part of the first phase of development will be clarified before the final business case in 2019.

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