West Suffolk Archives Branch to move to Western Way in Bury St Edmunds

Photo Credit: “Western Way Development” - West Suffolk Council

Suffolk County Council has approved plans to move the West Suffolk Archives branch in Bury St Edmunds into the new Western Way development, due to open in 2025.

The new development will improve accessibility, enabling more people to use the service. Its purpose-built strongroom will create accrual space for the West Suffolk Collections for the next 30 years.

The move will also unlock new opportunities to work with the health and leisure partners on site to develop community-based projects to support health and well-being.

Photo Credit: “Western Way Development” - West Suffolk Council
Photo Credit: “Western Way Development” – West Suffolk Council

As part of long-term planning for the Suffolk Archives service, the county council’s cabinet was presented with options for either remaining at its current location in Raingate Street or moving to the planned new Western Way community hub being developed by West Suffolk Council.

Recent investigations 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.

Suffolk County Council approved the proposals to move the service to the new Western Way Development at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 21 February.

Cllr Bobby Bennett, Cabinet Member for Equality and Communities, said: “The Western Way development presents an exciting opportunity to invest in the archives service in the West of the county, protecting it for future generations.

“Located in the heart of the community, its modern facilities for education and research will make our resources and collections accessible to even more visitors. The purpose-built strongroom will allow us to safely house the archives’ existing collections, spanning more than 900 years of Suffolk’s rich history, with additional accrual space for the next 30 years and beyond.

“We look forward to working with our colleagues at West Suffolk Council as the new development takes shape, and to welcoming our visitors to the new branch in 2025.”

Cllr Jo Rayner, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Community Hubs, West Suffolk Council, said: “We are thrilled that the Bury St Edmunds branch of the Suffolk Archives will be relocating to the Western Way Development. We know from the success of the award winning Mildenhall Hub, that co-locating services benefits the community and increases service use. Improving the access to the archives, and housing it alongside health and leisure facilities will hopefully encourage more people to visit it and improve the positive wellbeing outcomes for residents and visitors.”

The first phase of the new development at Western Way is anticipated to open to the public in Autumn 2025, with the new West Suffolk Branch of Suffolk Archives located on the ground floor. Phase one will also include sports and leisure facilities, health services and a pre-school.

Until then, the West Suffolk Archive Service will continue to operate from its current location in Raingate Street in Bury St Edmunds.