New community centre and homes on Howard estate in Bury St Edmunds taking shape
A new community centre which has been 'years in the making' and being built alongside new homes on a Bury St Edmunds estate is expected to open towards the end of the year.
The new Newbury Community Centre on the Howard estate is taking shape and residents, who helped form the plans, have visited the site alongside councillors.
The project, which is being led by the Newbury Community Association (NCA), also includes a Keepmoat Housing development of 79 new homes.
Ward Cllr Paul Hopfensperger, who has been heavily involved in the project since its inception, said: “This is bold, ambitious and exciting.
"I am sure lots of people are looking forward to the new community centre.
"This has been years in the making and I am delighted for everyone that has been a part of this journey, to see their new community centre being built."
Back in 2014, residents were invited to take part in the first of three engagement events about the activities they would like to see taking place in their new community centre.
Suffolk County Council also identified the opportunity to integrate the Carousel Children’s Centre into the new facility.
That then shaped the designs for the new building which is being paid for and delivered as part of the new Keepmoat Housing development.
The scheme has also been made possible through other developer contributions and a £670,000 grant from the Government’s Land Release Fund.
Members of the community association and councillors were among those who visited the site to see its progress.
Barbara Bannister, chairperson of the NCA, said: “It is really exciting. There has been so much progress made on the new building and we are looking forward to moving in there toward the end of the year and welcoming the local community to their new centre."
Once completed, West Suffolk Council will transfer ownership of the building to the NCA and the old community centre, built more than half a century ago, will then be demolished as part of the housing development that has helped pay for it.
Cllr Robert Everitt, cabinet member for families and communities at West Suffolk Council, represents the area on Suffolk County Council.
He said: “It is fantastic to see this vision, which the NCA has led on and which the community helped shape, rapidly becoming a reality and I am really looking forward to seeing it up and running.”
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for housing at West Suffolk Council, said: “It’s great to see the new centre taking shape alongside these much-needed homes, including affordable housing.
"Everyone needs a place to live and it is through housing delivery such as this that we can help meet that need as well as provide wonderful new facilities such as this new community centre which is so eagerly anticipated."
The new centre and the rest of the new homes are being built on the site of the former Howard Primary School, which was owned by Suffolk County Council.
A show-home is now open on the site for potential purchasers to view.
The redevelopment of the former school and the old community centre is backed by the Government’s One Public Estate programme which aims to help turn redundant public sector sites in areas that create growth including new housing and also generate efficiencies, such as through reduced running costs.
The redevelopment is being led by Keepmoat Homes and includes affordable housing.
Ashe Construction is building the new community centre on behalf of Keepmoat, working closely with the stakeholders.
Mick O’Farrell, regional managing director of Keepmoat, said: “We are delighted to have started work on this new development in partnership with West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council to deliver 79 much needed, high quality, affordable new homes and a new community centre.
"The development, with the community centre at its heart, will create a thriving new neighbourhood for the residents of Bury St Edmunds.”