Multi-million pound plan for Bury St Edmunds

23 October 2018, 12:26 | Updated: 23 October 2018, 12:34

Artist's impression of WWD in BSE

Proposals to deliver a multi-million development at Western Way, Bury St Edmunds could signal new state of the art leisure facilities and a nationally ground breaking way to deliver integrated public services.

An outline business case has been drawn up by partners which suggests bringing together new leisure facilities, health, education and other public services with the commercial sector on one site.

It is part of a long term vision for the area and would also attract investment and bring jobs, potentially opening within the next five years.

The outline case suggests the plans would give the opportunity for radical regeneration, transform how services work and produce better outcomes for residents. At the same time the new development aims to reduce costs to the public purse and free up other assets in the area.

It is also suggested that the steel frame of the depot on Olding Road is re-used for the new Public Service building, to 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.

Members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council are due to discuss at their meeting on 30 October whether a detailed business case should be worked up for the scheme - estimated to be around £100 to £125million.

The report says 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 if it is agreed that more detailed plans are worked up.

It also means that the current leisure centre and pool, which needs millions of pounds of improvements before having to be rebuilt anyway, could be moved within the site to integrate with health services, providing extra parking and new facilities.

The report also says that doing nothing is 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 CCG 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 and the CAB.

Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: "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 would be nationally ground breaking and bring 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.

"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. 

"This is just the start of the process and if the Council agrees more detailed work will need to be done before any final plans are agreed."