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Bid to transform Bury St Edmunds town centre offices in Looms Lane into homes rejected due to concerns over two trees





Plans to transform offices in Bury St Edmunds town centre into seven homes have been rejected due to concerns over the impact on two trees.

Matthew Smith sought permission to convert, alter and extend an office building to create six flats on land next to 12 Looms Lane as well as to build a single-storey home.

The proposal included adding an extra two storeys to the offices, which were built in 1977. The most recent tenant left the site in October 2019.

Matthew Smith sought permission to convert, alter and extend an office building to create six flats on land next to 12 Looms Lane, Bury St Edmunds, as well as to build a single-storey home. Picture: Paul Derrick
Matthew Smith sought permission to convert, alter and extend an office building to create six flats on land next to 12 Looms Lane, Bury St Edmunds, as well as to build a single-storey home. Picture: Paul Derrick

However, West Suffolk Council refused the application due to uncertainty over the impacts on a veteran Robinia tree and a protected Sycamore tree.

The Robinia is within a small cemetery to the south-western boundary of the site and the Sycamore is to the south in a back garden on Angel Hill.

Arboricultural officers objected due to the potential impacts on the trees.

Bury St Edmunds Town Council recommended refusal due to concerns about overdevelopment and the access.

In a joint representation, 11 residents at Gardiner House, to the west of the site, raised issues with the roofline height, potential for wildlife disturbance, noise pollution and parking.

The Bury Society objected due to overdevelopment, scale and the effect on Looms Lane, Angel Hill and the neighbouring listed buildings.

A West Suffolk Council report said the plans complied with local and national policies regarding its impact on neighbouring properties.

Although the proposal would provide housing in a sustainable location, the authority said this would not outweigh the policy conflict and harm from the impact on a veteran tree.

In its refusal, the council said there were uncertainties surrounding the direct and indirect impacts on the veteran trees which would conflict with advice from Natural England and planning policy.

The site was acquired in 1976 by building firm Lees Smith East Anglia Limited for its head office.

Lees Smith left around 1989 and the offices were occupied by a number of tenants including an insurance broker, the Rural Development Commission and a home improvements company.

The building was refurbished in early 2020 and marketed as office space but the applicant was unable to secure a new tenant.