Bury St Edmunds market
By Wendy Rose
Some of the existing shopkeepers in Bury St Edmunds are voicing their concerns about stores closing in the historic town. They are worried a new £105m shopping centre will take their business.
There is even more to the Bury St Edmunds skyline in 2008 as the tall cranes vie for air space with the sugar factory and the cathedral. Follow the cranes and you can easily find the 'arc' (the developer insists the 'a' is in lower case) - the mixed use development that is on the up.
According to builders Taylor Woodrow, the project will be completed by spring 2009. It consists of chain stores, apartments and a public venue being built on the site of the old cattle market.
Some of the shopkeepers and market traders think that shops in the historic town centre will move into the new development leaving shops empty. Dave King has been running his market stall in Bury St Edmunds for 37 years: "If they do the link between the old and the new properly then it should be fine.
"If there are lots of empty shops owing to them moving into the arc development then it will be a problem. Five shops moving is a lot in a town like this one. We haven't been kept up to date with how many shops are moving."
Mr Heath who runs his haberdashery stall said: "It will be just like any other town with all the same shops rather than having the individuality the town has had in the past. You can go to Norwich, Ipswich or Cambridge for those shops too."
Ken who has run a wholefoods stall for 8 years said: "It will move the town centre."
St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds
Shopper Mrs Watson, who was born in Bury St Edmunds, said: "I'm not impressed, once they have built all that I think the old part will vanish."
John Garbett, who runs the Bury Framing Centre on St John's Street and previously worked in retail advertising, said:
"We could get the doughnut effect here like they did in Meadowhall in Sheffield and Merry Hill in Birmingham. You get a hole in the centre of the town where there is no undercover shopping and no nearby car parking.
"Some shopkeepers are not renewing their leases because they aren't sure of the effect the arc will have on their trade."
Steve Bryson from Halogen, which represents Centros the developers, said: "The whole development aims to extend and complement the existing town centre by providing the right level of shopping to fulfil the needs of Bury St Edmunds' expanding population.
"Once it opens next year, this will reduce the number of trips local people are currently making to greater retail draws like Ipswich, Norwich and Cambridge and we expect existing retailers will also benefit from the increased number of shoppers that will be attracted to shop here."
Shoppers on Abbeygate, Bury St Edmunds
Town centre manager Steve Peters said: "With the threat of internet shopping we need to attract the 400,000 people in the 20 mile radius of Bury St Edmunds (source: St Edmundsbury Borough Council (SEBC) economics department) who would normally shop elsewhere if they are not on the internet."
He also said: "Five lease holders are moving to the new development in March 2009, of which two of these shops have already been re-let. Only four businesses that I know of to date are not renewing their lease but for a number of reasons.
"Two of those non renewals have already been re-leased. It cannot be said that this is just because of the arc development."
The Market Thoroughfare has been the link from the cattle market and then the car park to the historic town previously.
Marianne Hulland of SEBC, said: "The intention is to widen Market Thoroughfare by demolishing some of the existing buildings, including Top Shop, which is one of the shops moving into the development.
"A number of smaller shops and apartments are taking their place. Once the development is built Top Shop can relocate and the Market Thoroughfare can be widened."
Steve Bryson said: "The Market Thoroughfare is a different project to arc development. Centros has planning permission for the original plan put down in 2005.
"Centros now want to improve on the original plan and so they are talking with architects and the council to create a new plan and get permission from the council to implement it."
last updated: 18/06/2008 at 15:33
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