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Bury St Edmunds The Lantern developer defends controversial flats



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“I have put a lot of love and effort into this development and when you read some of the things people have said it upsets you.”

That is what the developer of controversial Bury St Edmunds flats scheme The Lantern said this week, after new criticism was levelled at the Tayfen Road complex.

Last week, Suffolk News reported how the project’s unfinished Ipswich Street car park exit had been branded an ‘eyesore’ by a nearby resident.

The Lantern in Tayfen Road, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
The Lantern in Tayfen Road, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
The rear terrace of The Lantern development. Picture: Mecha Morton
The rear terrace of The Lantern development. Picture: Mecha Morton

On Tuesday, developer Belal Rouf defended The Lantern and said the £15 million scheme was due to be finished within four to six weeks.

The 46-apartment project – which includes a separately-owned Nisa convenience store also set to open within weeks – has been years in the making, after Belal bought the former used car sales site in late 2016.

Plans were submitted to St Edmundsbury Borough Council in 2017 but took two years to win approval at planning appeal.

The rear of The Lantern. Picture: Mecha Morton
The rear of The Lantern. Picture: Mecha Morton

“We sent the plans in. We had 30 neighbours kicking off. We went back and forth to planning over privacy and light laws and all sorts. The council wasn’t responding so we went to planning appeal. The appeal was set to last two days and only lasted 18 minutes,” said Belal.

“Then the neighbours created a Facebook page complaining about it, but I thought I would ignore that.”

Construction has taken just over two years, with delays caused by the pandemic and getting hold of materials.

What will become a Nisa convenience store at The Lantern, in Tayfen Road. Picture: Mecha Morton
What will become a Nisa convenience store at The Lantern, in Tayfen Road. Picture: Mecha Morton

“To keep (Tayfen) road closures to a minimum we left the last flat unfinished, as it has been our main point of access and getting things in and out, but work to finish that will start on Friday,” said Belal.

“Everything has a reason why it’s like that.”

The new gate for the unfinished Ipswich Street exit should arrive this week.

A look inside the Lantern flats in Tayfen Road. Picture: Mecha Morton
A look inside the Lantern flats in Tayfen Road. Picture: Mecha Morton

Other finishing touches will include planters at the front of the building, the removal of protective sheeting to windows and further planting in the communal terrace garden.

Privacy panels already cover parts of the building’s rear access corridors, but windows and gardens of homes in Peckham Street are clearly visible from the development.

Meanwhile, forty of the flats – which each have a balcony and parking space – have been sold, with 25 already occupied.

A balcony at The Lantern flats on Tayfen Road. Picture: Mecha Morton
A balcony at The Lantern flats on Tayfen Road. Picture: Mecha Morton

“The residents love it,” said Belal. “This is not an average building. It is concrete framed so the lifespan is over 150 years.

“I have kept three of my guys on site until Christmas, sorting out any problems. Nobody does that. I don’t walk away from my jobs and I have done more than a normal builder would.”

A Lantern resident said: "I think it's absolutely brilliant. People hate change and often have no vision."