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Bury St Edmunds Primark speculation for former Debenhams proves a talking point for readers



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Readers have given their reaction to a suggestion that Primark could move into a town's flagship store.

SuffolkNews revealed yesterday that terms had been agreed with a high street retailer to occupy the ground and first floors of the former Debenhams at the arc shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds.

But it was a suggestion in a document, linked to plans for an Everyman Cinema in the basement of the empty department store, that a Primark could move in which has had readers talking.

The former Debenhams at the arc shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Paul Derrick (58301803)
The former Debenhams at the arc shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Paul Derrick (58301803)

About 150 comments were made on the Suffolk News and Bury Free Press Facebook pages as of yesterday afternoon and here is some of the reaction.

Jonathan Parker said: "A Primark would make the most sense for a shop that size."

Chantell Hand-Smiley said: "I think a Primark is perfect for Bury. Now Bury people won’t have to go to Norwich or Ipswich."

The interior of the former Debenhams in Bury St Edmunds, this month
The interior of the former Debenhams in Bury St Edmunds, this month

Esther Jacobs said the fashion retailer would bring in more people to the town and she hoped it would happen.

Laura Mitchell felt that Primark was 'awful'.

Sharon Watts was hoping for an IKEA closer to Bury.

Marcel De Beer said: "About time Bury gets a Primark. Hopefully it would happen."

Roy Tilbrook questioned why the empty shop could not be used for an indoor market.

Linda J McPhee said: "I’d like M&S to move there. Plenty of parking, which their current place lacks on market days."

Daniel Benjamin Johnson suggested that local brands or small business should be given the opportunity to showcase their work on a month to month basis rather than 'huge multi million pound companies'.

Debenhams in Bury St Edmunds pictured on its final day on May 8, 2021. Picture: Mecha Morton
Debenhams in Bury St Edmunds pictured on its final day on May 8, 2021. Picture: Mecha Morton

A recent application was made to West Suffolk Council by Michael Roult, of CBRE Investment Management on behalf of Bury WM Unit Trust, for a non-material change of condition amendment to a servicing plan following the closure of Debenhams, which shut in May 2021.

A planning statement said the applicant had agreed terms with a high street retailer to occupy the ground and first floors of the former Debenhams.

It said: "The proposed occupier requires confirmation that the servicing plan which specifically refers to Debenhams, will not preclude the company from operating deliveries to the store under the terms of the plan.

"Consequently this application proposes that reference to 'Debenhams' is deleted from the plan including the attached plan and for the area formerly occupied by Debenhams to be denoted as ‘Building G.’

"The wording has been altered to reflect the fact that the development is now fully complete and operational.

"However, no changes to the existing delivery times and delivery access arrangements are proposed."

In February, Bury WM Unit Trust submitted proposals for an Everyman Cinema in part of the basement at the former department store.

An environmental impact assessment, prepared in May by RBA Acoustics, for the cinema plans made reference to a Primark.

It said: "To the above of the demise is proposed to be a Primark shopping centre."

Allan Hassell, manager of arc shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Allan Hassell, manager of arc shopping centre in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

Allan Hassell, manager of the arc shopping centre, said they were unable to comment on speculation.

He said they were unable to confirm at this stage who the retailer is but the strip out of the empty store was complete.

Mr Hassell added that Suffolk and Bury St Edmunds particularly was in 'quite a strong place' to attract retailers.

Letting agents are working to fill the other empty units at the arc.