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Plan to turn disused offices back to homes

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Numbers two to four St Andrew’s Street North could become homes again
Numbers two to four St Andrew’s Street North could become homes again

Three run-down buildings in a main ‘gateway’ to Bury St Edmunds’ town centre may be returned to former glory.

Numbers two, three and four St Andrew’s Street North were built as homes and used as such for more than 100 years before conversion to offices and shops in the early 1980s.

Now run down, though with a barbers’ still occupying the basement of number three, Thingoe Developments has made a planning application to turn them back into homes while retaining the barbers’.

They also want to build two homes after demolishing an accommodation and garage building behind 106 to 108 Risbygate Street, which backs onto the St Andrew’s Street houses.

The application’s planning statement says: “The properties were built as residential units and retain their original domestic residential street frontage/appearance, as a result they do not have suitable provision for signage and continue to be visually interpreted as residential.

“Should these units be retained as retail in all likelihood they will only attract low quality occupiers.”

The town centre masterplan said of the ‘St Andrews Quarter’, around the bus station,: “There is a significant opportunity to redevelop the area for a mix of uses and also improve the character and appearance of the town centre.”

It urges redevelopment to improve the street “including potential for new housing”.

The Bury St Edmunds town centre masterplan's vision of St Andrews Street North
The Bury St Edmunds town centre masterplan's vision of St Andrews Street North

The developer says: “It is believed the proposals offer conservation benefits and would enhance the character of the conservation area and make a positive contribution to the ‘St Andrews Quarter’. “

The buildings behind 106 to 108 Risbygate Street are a garage with a flat above them and date from before 1885 when the developer thinks they may have been built as stables for large houses in Risbygate Street.

The developer wants to build a one bedroom and a two bedroom home in a building that follows the footprint of the existing one.

It’s planning statement adds: “It is considered that small units such as these add variety to existing housing stock within the town centre and therefore has a positive impact on the area and its character.”

It accepts that the proposed homes are smaller than standard and have no external amenity areas but suggests they should be viewed as ‘flats’ and says there are smaller two-bedroom, three-person properties on Moreton Hall.

Andrew Speed, who represented the borough and town councils and Our Bury St Edmunds on the masterplan working party, said: "St Andrew's Street is one of the key priorities of the wider town centre masterplan and any development on that road will need to complement and fit in with the wider vision.

"More residential in that street would be welcome but it must fit in with the five-year view of how we want it to look."