Construction of new Bury St Edmunds community centre will begin in the next two months

Construction of a new community centre and homes on the Howard estate in Bury St Edmunds is to begin in the next two months.

Over the last few months, Keepmoat Homes has been getting the site ready for development and has now completed the final stages of the previously agreed land acquisition from West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council.

Keepmoat will be building the community centre and the first phase of these homes in tandem. Subject to any further impact Covid-19 may have on construction, this would see the community centre open by the end of next year at which point it will be handed into the ownership of the Newbury Community Association to manage going forward.

Keepmoat will then demolish the existing Newbury Community Centre to complete the second phase of homes. In total the development will deliver 79 new homes of which nearly a third will be affordable housing. This is on land that belonged to the former school as well as the site of the existing community centre and children’s centre owned by Suffolk County and West Suffolk councils.

The current Newbury Community Centre which will be demolished

As well as having the support of all local councillors, the local MP and the Havebury Housing Partnership, the project was shaped by three stages of public consultation led by the Newbury Community Association which leafleted every home on the estate inviting residents to a drop in event to have their say on the kind of events and activities they would use the new centre for. The NCA have then led the design process for the new centre on behalf of their community.

Barbara Bannister, chairperson of the NCA, said: “We are delighted that construction of our new community centre will soon get underway. This is a centre for all of the community and we hope that people of all ages will make use of this fantastic new facility.”

Cllr Paul Hopfensperger has been involved in the project from the start as both a West Suffolk ward councillor and a representative of the NCA on the project board. “The community centre project has been shaped by the people and for the people. It has been a pleasure to work with so many people from the estate and like them, I look forward to 2021 when this brilliant new centre will open.”

Cllr Robert Everitt, West Suffolk Council’s Cabinet Member for Families and Communities and a Suffolk County Council ward member for the area said: “This is another major step toward delivering a new community centre for the people living on the Howard estate, one that will be owned and run by the residents themselves and it is great news that construction is soon to begin.”

Leader of West Suffolk Council, Cllr John Griffiths, said: “It has taken a lot of hard work by The Newbury Community Association and project partners as well as the excellent input of local residents to help shape plans and get us to this stage. My congratulations and thanks to all those involved. Like them, I am very much looking forward to seeing the new centre built and used for and by the local community.”

Cllr Nick Gowrley, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for housing said. “This is the culmination of close partnership working with West Suffolk Council and the Newbury Community Association over a number of years. This approach proves, once again, that when we bring communities and local councils together to plan new housing developments, more can be achieved for those communities. Not just in terms of the housing itself, but also in the provision of excellent new community facilities which will add real social value to the local area.”

Keepmoat Homes Regional Managing Director, Mick O’Farrell, said: “We are delighted to be starting 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 Bury St Edmunds.”