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Bury St Edmunds Post Office redevelopment involves 'complicated design process' to retain historic front




Engineers have outlined the 'complicated design process' to protect the historic front of the former Bury St Edmunds Post Office during a major redevelopment.

Steel beams have been clamped to the front and back of the Victorian facade of the building, in Cornhill, with a mass of concrete blocks, described as 'a bit like LEGO bricks', used to keep the structure in place.

The frontage of 17-18 Cornhill is being retained while the rest of the building behind is being demolished to create ground floor commercial units and 12 flats above.

Mark Bailey, of Barnes Construction, outlines the work to protect the historic Cornhill front to Cllr John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council
Mark Bailey, of Barnes Construction, outlines the work to protect the historic Cornhill front to Cllr John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council

The Market Thoroughfare will also be widened by more than 50 per cent and there will be a new commercial frontage onto St Andrew's Street South.

West Suffolk Council bought the empty site in 2017 and the redevelopment is being overseen by Barnes Construction and architects Concertus Design and Property Consultants.

Barnes' structural engineers Superstructures is handling the protection of the historic front.

A concept image of the redeveloped former Post Office, in Bury St Edmunds
A concept image of the redeveloped former Post Office, in Bury St Edmunds

James Potter, managing director of Superstructures said: “The retention of the existing Post Office façade is a complicated design process.

"Superstructures has designed a system that will clamp steel beams to the front and rear of the façade.

"This is then fixed onto triangular trusses that get supported at ground floor level.

"At the base of the temporary structure we have a mass of concrete blocks, a bit like LEGO bricks, that will hold the structure in place until the new steel frame for the building is constructed behind.

"This will then provide the permanent support allowing the temporary structure to be removed."

Cllr John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council said the Victorian front was 'an important part' of the town’s history and heritage.

"From day one, our plan, and our challenge has been about how we keep this wonderful piece of architecture and bring it back into use, while also achieving the dramatic and important changes needed to Market Thoroughfare and St Andrew's Street South," he said.

"The structural engineering that will protect the Cornhill front is both complex and fascinating - and crucial to its success."

Mark Bailey, director at Barnes Construction, added: "It is great to see the initial phase on the redevelopment of this landmark building in the centre of Bury St Edmunds taking shape.

"Once the façade retention is completed, we will be moving onto the careful removal of the building immediately behind and then the groundworks to support the new building."

The project is scheduled for completion in 2022.

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