Bury St Edmunds flats at former post office go on the market for between £180,000 and £750,000
Twelve luxury flats - created as part of the multi-million pound redevelopment of a historic town centre building, have gone on market - with six of them already under offer.
The Bury St Edmunds town centre flats, which occupy three floors of the building at 17-18 Cornhill, are a mix of one, two and three bedroom homes, priced between £184,950 and £750,000.
West Suffolk Council is behind the redevelopment of the building, which was left vacant by the Post Office in 2016.
The construction project, which began in September 2020, retains the Victorian Cornhill front of the building, widens Market Thoroughfare by more than 50 per cent to 3.8m, and creates a new commercial frontage onto St Andrews Street South.
The development also includes two ground floor commercial units.
The building originally dates back to 1886, when it was built by Everett and Sons of Colchester, following a design by Sir Henry Turner. A top floor is now occupied by a three bedroom penthouse with en suite and terrace.
Bedfords Estate Agents, which is handling the sale of the flats, said offers have already been accepted for six of them.
Agent Paul Bedford said: “We know that there is high demand for high quality accommodation such as this in the heart of the town centre, so we are not surprised to see such early interest.
"Bury St Edmunds is very much in demand as a destination and as a place where people want to live and work. Its wonderful surroundings, the town centre heritage and culture, low crime rate and its location in relation to London and Cambridge all add to its attraction.
"We are expecting strong interest in the remaining apartments.”
Cllr Sarah Broughton, cabinet member for resources and property at West Suffolk Council said: “We are delighted with the interest so far in these apartments which is in line with our own and the market’s expectations and enables us to deliver the wider benefits to the town centre.
"The interest in these apartments reinforces our belief that Bury St Edmunds town centre continues to be a place that people want to come to, whether that is as a place to live, to work, or a place to visit for the fantastic array or leisure, culture, heritage, restaurants, café and shops.
"Our investment, and funds from the sale of the apartments will also allow us to deliver additional affordable housing elsewhere in the town, helping toward a mix of housing needs.”
West Suffolk Council held a public exhibition of concept designs in 2018, which received 'overwhelming' public support.
The scheme follows on from many of the 8000 public comments that helped shape the town centre masterplan in 2017.
Many of those comments referred to widening Market Thoroughfare and making improvements to St Andrew's Street South to better integrate and ensure maximum footfall between the arc and the Cornhill and Buttermarket parts of the town centre.
Cllr Susan Glossop, West Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for growth, said: “The marketing of these apartments represents another major milestone as this important town centre investment nears completion.
“The sale of the apartments helps make possible the improvements to Market Thoroughfare, St Andrew's St South and the restoration on the historic Cornhill front, so it is pleasing to hear there is already such strong interest.
“We have also had interest in the two commercial units and we are looking forward to seeing the work on these finalised over the coming weeks.
“Once complete, it is our hope and ambition, that our new commercial units including the one fronting onto St Andrews St South that we have created, will encourage other landowners and developers to invest in revitalising this street scene to the benefit of the town centre”.
The council delayed its planning application in 2019 to explore how affordable housing could be part of the scheme.
Its planning policy means that developments of more than 10 homes or more need to deliver 30 percent affordable housing on-site or in exceptional circumstances the equivalent value off-site.
For this, it would need a registered provider to take on the ownership and management of the apartments.
The council says it spoke to 'all of the major registered providers of affordable homes' in West Suffolk - but none would take on ownership and management due to the service charges which would mean they wouldn’t be affordable for people seeking such housing.
However, instead of cutting back the number of apartments, the council decided instead to deliver affordable housing through a 'commuted sum' scheme.
This means a percentage of sales of the flats is put towards affordable housing elsewhere in the town, through a registered provider.
A spokesman said the council is in talks with providers to explore options that will best meet local needs.
The council invested £8.4 million into the project which includes the £1.6m purchase. Leader of West Suffolk Council, Councillor John Griffiths also secured an additional £160,000 through Suffolk Public Sector Leaders from the 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.
CJ Green, chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Revitalising our city and town centres and making them attractive places to live, work and visit is going to be play a key role in making them more resilient in the future, and it is great to hear about the strong early demand for these properties at the former post office site.”