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Bury St Edmunds Suffolk Archives branch could move from current Raingate Street home to Western Way hub

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The Suffolk Archives branch in Bury St Edmunds could be moved to new premises as Suffolk County Council considers plans for its future.

The authority, which oversees the archives, has announced it is in talks over whether the facility should remain at its current site in Raingate Street or move to a new location in Western Way, where a multi-council hub has been approved for development.

Once completed, it would host a number of public services, as well as new leisure, health and education facilities. It is expected to open to the public in 2025.

An artist's impression of the upcoming Western Way hub in Bury St Edmunds.
An artist's impression of the upcoming Western Way hub in Bury St Edmunds.

It is suggested that the archives could eventually be relocated to this site.

Councillor Bobby Bennett, the county council's cabinet member for equality and communities, said: "We need to ensure that our archives service is fit for the future, operates efficiently and provides value for money for our residents.

"It also needs to be accessible to all our visitors, whether that is at our existing branch in Raingate Street or elsewhere in Bury St Edmunds.

"Recent inspections have shown that if the service were to remain at Raingate Street, alterations requiring significant investment would be needed for the long-term future sustainability of the building, as well as to provide a modern and inclusive archive service in the town.

"One option we are exploring is relocating the branch to the Western Way development, and we are in the early stages of engaging with West Suffolk Council to understand what possibilities there might be as part of this integrated public services project.

"We are looking at what a new purpose-built setting for the archives branch could look like, and what specialist facilities would be required, such as the strongroom for our archives and reading rooms for visitors.

"We are committed to continuing to provide an archives branch in Bury St Edmunds, as well as preserving and storing archive documents from the area going back centuries, safely for future generations.

"Our archives branches are open to everyone, and we want to share the Suffolk stories and histories we hold spanning more than 900 years of history, with as many local people as possible."

Councillor Jo Rayner, West Suffolk Council's deputy leader, said: "The design and planning consent for the development at Western Way were kept as flexible as possible to allow further opportunities like this to be explored.

"West Suffolk Council and the other existing project partners realise there is a long way to go with consultation and business cases, but are delighted that Suffolk County Council are considering Western Way for the future of the archive in Bury St Edmunds alongside other options.

"If the decision is made for the archives to be housed at Western Way this will be a welcome addition to what is already planned.

"The development is designed to bring a range of public and commercial partners together to give communities better access to services and ultimately greater benefits. We look forward to assisting the County Council in their review."