Protecting the town’s character

This week the Bury Free Press printed the second of a series of articles about us. The Bury Society has fought for the town for over 50 years. The town and immediate area are both going through further expansion and we continue to listen to our members concerns and make representations during the planning process.

Love for our town’s heritage, environment, and future development has not diminished over the 50 years existence of the Bury Society.  Our work is often invisible, involving meetings and paperwork. Our scrutiny of planning applications, is the perfect example of this. The society was founded over 50 years ago when great swathes of the historical centre were to be swept away to build a new town centre shopping mall. The Bury Society’s efforts ensured that no such mistake was made and that today the town retains its essential character with many of its core buildings along with a vibrant national and independent retail mix.

A more recent success story is in respect of the Cornhill Walk redevelopment where the Bury Society joined forces with the Well Street residents to lodge a strong objection to the original plans in 2017. The society recognised that the original plans would result in a building out of step with its surroundings and streetscape. With the aid of our planning officer and the funding of an eminent planning Barrister, John Dagg, the original application was finally refused and more sensible proposals are now being put forward. Another success has been at the recent Marham Park development, where designated communal facility land was under threat. The Bury Society’s weight was put behind the voices of Marham Park residents resulting in the recently approved David Lloyd leisure centre.

The society has not always been successful in ensuring that planned changes were in keeping with the town, its heritage and social infrastructure. We were unsuccessful in retaining a Magistrates Court, ending hundreds of years of an important link between the townsfolk and the justice system. In the late 1990s, whilst accepting the loss of the Cattle Market as inevitable, we fought hard to retain the landmark ‘Settling House’, also known to many as ‘The Roundhouse’ for selling buns and ginger beer when the market was active. This wooden building was saved, but sadly had to be moved to the renamed National Food Museum at Stowmarket. Also in the modern part of the town centre we have been able to persuade the authorities to  include landscaping to improve harsh street scenes.

The town and immediate area are both going through further expansion and we continue to listen to our members concerns and make representations during the planning process. This was very much the case with the important planning application for the proposed new hospital. Our planning officer has also commented on various aspects of the forthcoming Abbots Vale development between the Sicklesmere Road and the A14. Our interventions are much respected. Some developers, have sought our views before formal submissions have been made to the council.

This important planning voice needs the weight of a solid membership behind us. We would strongly encourage new members to come forward from the more recent residential developments – Morton Hall, Marham Park and others. Residents voices need to be heard on matters important to them, and where the reality has fallen short of the promises made as these developments mature. Our voice will become stronger with a more diverse and youthful membership.

We would encourage all readers to visit our website at to see example of where we have commented on planning issues  past and present. The Bury Society works with the Town Council and West Suffolk Council to ensure the best outcomes for all parts of the town. Our town must change with the times, to grow and prosper, whilst remaining a beautiful place to live, work and visit. Above all, we want to encourage you to have a say in the future of your town. Wherever you live, whether in the town or the surrounding area, The Bury Society has something to offer you.  


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