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Behind-the-scenes of the Bury St Edmunds multi-million pound flat development at the former post office



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Eight of the twelve flats created as part of the redevelopment of the former post office in Bury St Edmunds are now under offer - with around half of those from people of retirement age.

The flats, designed over three floors at 17-18 Cornhill, are a mix of one, two and three bedroom homes, priced between £184,950 and £750,000.

The top floor features two three bedroom penthouses - the most expensive.

The former Post Office at Cornhill as it looks today. Pictures and video: Chris Morris
The former Post Office at Cornhill as it looks today. Pictures and video: Chris Morris

The apartments went on the market three weeks ago.

The remaining fifty percent of offers accepted have come from investors.

Paul Bedford, of Bedford Estate Agents, which is handling the sales, said: "Since the launch of the brochure on the site we have now taken eight deposits.

"I suspect that we will get certainly two more under offer fairly quickly because there has been an exceptional amount of interest in them in the centre of town.

"We put out a teaser with QR codes earlier in the year, and then sent people a brochure and price list after the full launch.

"We have been taking calls however since the beginning of the year.

"We have probably a fifty fifty mix of people who are going to live here and those who are investing.

Windows in the penthouse
Windows in the penthouse

"The people coming to live here are retirement age, which is what we were expecting, as the centre of town is always going to be attractive to this demographic.

"The apartments, certainly the two bedrooms are slightly larger than standard retirement apartments, which attracts people who want to retire and want a bit of space.

"They will also have permit parking in the arc, which covers them elsewhere in the town, and can also walk to Marks and Spencer."

A number of the apartments have terraces
A number of the apartments have terraces

Paul Bedford said the key selling point was: location.

"The apartments are unusual for their location, their design and have good space inside," he said.

"Some have better views than others but that is taken into consideration.

"Location is the selling point. If people want to change a bathroom or kitchen they can, but you can't change where it is located."

West Suffolk Council invested £8.4 million into the project, which includes the £1.6m purchase.

The view from the top floor front penthouse
The view from the top floor front penthouse

Council leader John Griffiths also secured an additional £160,000 through the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders' business rates retention pool.

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership contributed £2.75 million after it was awarded £32.1 million through the Government’s Getting Building Fund.

The project retains the Victorian front of the building, originally built in 1886, widens Market Thoroughfare by more than 50 per cent to 3.8m, and also creates a new commercial frontage onto St Andrew's Street South.

Many of the 8000 public comments made during the town centre masterplan in 2017, referred to improvements in these areas.

The apartments are proving popular with people of retirement age, and investors
The apartments are proving popular with people of retirement age, and investors

Cllr John Griffiths said: "The reality for us, is the whole project, is at no cost to the taxpayer, as hopefully it will pay for itself

"It also has allowed us to restore a historic property, that perhaps a private developer probably wouldn't have done quite so sympathetically.

"This, in turn, helps us deliver the aspirations of blending the old and the new, by retaining the frontage, developing the thoroughfare, and improving St Andrews Street South, leading to the arc.

"It is hopefully the start of another chapter in delivering that seamless link between the old and new parts of town."

The front of the building in March 2021 before work started to construct the building behind. Picture: Mark Westley
The front of the building in March 2021 before work started to construct the building behind. Picture: Mark Westley

West Suffolk Council purchased the building five years ago.

Work began in September 2020.

Computer generated images from West Suffolk Council and Bedfords show how the immediate Cornhill area and the flats may look when complete.

The entrance to the flats will be on Market Thoroughfare and feature a lobby, lift and main staircase.

The project also includes two commercial units in which Bedfords say there 'has been interest'.

Interior construction is at the early stages but on schedule
Interior construction is at the early stages but on schedule

The council hope the project will help inspire further investment in the immediate area.

Councillor Susan Glossop, West Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for growth, said: "In the early days, people liked the idea but said we'd never do it, especially widening the walkway.

"When I stood at the end of the thoroughfare this morning, it really is quite impressive, so I think people will ultimately be pleased that we are now marrying the old with the new.

"We want to encourage other landowners and developers to follow suit, around St Andrews Street, to make that a very nice area as well, which is a next step, and try to pedestrianise it as much as we can."

The view from a second floor bedroom window onto Market Thoroughfare, which will be widened by 3.8 metres
The view from a second floor bedroom window onto Market Thoroughfare, which will be widened by 3.8 metres

Cllr Sarah Broughton, cabinet member for resources and property at West Suffolk Council, said: "For the town centre to see the thoroughfare widened, for Cornhill to look better and St Andrew's Street improved, is something we as a council really felt strongly about and its wonderful to see this space being adapted so well to modern day living."

The construction team behind the Cornhill redevelopment include Barnes Construction, Concertus as the contractor appointed architect, and Superstructures as the structural engineer.

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Work first started in September 2020
Work first started in September 2020

Cllr Griffiths added: "Considering we have been through Covid, and with supply issues affecting the trade nationally, how the scheme is progressing is very impressive."