Community takes ownership of newly built multi-million-pound community centre

The keys to a newly built multi-million-pound community centre have been formally handed to community trustees, with an official opening being planned for January.

Shaped by the community and delivered through housing developer funding and a Government grant, the handover of the new New Bury Community Centre to community trustees completes an ambition seven years in the making.

Barbara Bannister was chairperson of the New Bury Community Association which has led the project. Together with other longstanding members, she has now stepped down and a new set of trustees from the local community, will take on the new community centre.

“This is a momentous day, and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved, not just the association, but all those in the community who took part in the engagement events. It has shaped this new centre which we hope will see many weddings, birthdays and other special occasions, and be used by a wealth of groups and organisations catering for people of all ages,” she said.

Andrew Morris of Ashe Group presents a symbolic key to the new New Bury Community Centre to Yvonne Galloway watched on by representatives of West Suffolk Council, Keepmoat Homes, past members of the New Bury Community Centre Association and new trustees. Sat at the front are Valerie Cownley, Ernie Broom and Barbara Bannister.

Yvonne Galloway, the new chairperson of the New Bury Community Association which is now established as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation said: “The new centre looks fantastic. It is so much bigger than the previous one and will be able to offer the community a lot more. We have the Carousel children’s centre in the building, the NHS will have a clinic room, there are large and small halls to hire and a large communal Hub. Some activities and bookings from the old centre such as Upbeat Heart Support, Bury St Edmunds Presbyterian Church and the over 60s club are already holding their sessions in the new centre and seem delighted with the new venue and are helping us to ensure everything is working as expected ahead of our official opening next month.

We are looking forward to the centre being fully open in early January with several new hirers already booked in. There are facilities for a social club and Cafe – although the Association will not be running these – we welcome any enquiries from groups in the community who wish to set one up. We will also be holding our first annual general meeting soon after opening, which will provide an opportunity for other people in the community to join the association and help run the centre.

“In January we hope to hold an open event which everybody in the community will be invited to come along to. It will be a chance for people to see their new centre, find out how they can get involved, discover the activities that we have taking place and how they can hire the centre themselves. Keep an eye on our Facebook group at and at or our website at for more details.”

The work of the NBCA on the project has been supported throughout by West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council, with also an input from Havebury Housing Partnership in its early stages. The new building will also house the Carousel Children’s Centre and a new medical room for community health uses.

Cllr Robert Everitt, Cabinet Member for Families and Communities at West Suffolk Council, represents the area on Suffolk County Council. He said: “The community should feel very proud of all that they have achieved. This is a fully accessible centre owned and run by volunteers in the community and it is there for everyone to make the best use of it. If you have idea of things you’d like to see happening to help cater for different people, whether the young or less young, come along and get involved.”

The new community centre has been and paid for and delivered as part of a new Keepmoat Homes development of 79 new homes, alongside other developer contributions and a £670,000 grant from the Government’s Land Release Fund. The old community centre, which was owned by West Suffolk Council, and the former Carousel Children’s Centre owned by Suffolk County Council will soon be demolished to make way for some of these new homes which include affordable housing.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, Cabinet Member for Housing at West Suffolk Council, said: “I am delighted to see the new centre complete alongside much needed new 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.”

Local ward councillor Paul Hopfensperger has been heavily involved in the project since its inception. He said: “This day has been 10 years in the making. I am delighted for Barbara, Ernie Broom, Gordon Macintyre and for all those that have given their views and input into delivering this wonderful new centre which has been shaped by the community, for the community. I am extremely proud to have been a part of it. The legacy of the NBCA will now be carried forward by a new group of trustees and I would simply encourage everyone in the local community to get involved in their centre.”

The new community centre has been built on the site of the former Howard Primary School, which was owned by Suffolk County Council.

Leader of Suffolk County Council, Cllr Matthew Hicks said: “The County Council is proud to have played a key role in enabling this project and is delighted to see the new community centre built and handed over to the new trustees. The County Council’s family hub will now operate from within the centre, continuing to provide important healthy child services for local families.”

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 generate efficiencies, such as through reduced running costs.

The redevelopment was led by Keepmoat Homes while Ashe Construction built the new community centre on behalf of Keepmoat Homes, working closely with the stakeholders.

Keepmoat Homes Regional Managing Director, Michael O’Farrell, said: “We are delighted today to be able to hand over the keys of the new community building to New Bury Community Association, providing a lasting legacy for the new and existing residents of this part of Bury St Edmunds, advocating true partnership working between the public sector, the community and the developer.”

Andrew Morris, Business Development Director for Ashe Group, said: “‘We are absolutely delighted to be handing this new community facility over to the stakeholders who have worked so hard to make this building possible. It looks absolutely fantastic, and we hope it provides many opportunities where the community can come together to enjoy activities, and each other’s company ensuring a strong sense of community develops around this new settlement.”