Bury St Edmunds archives branch starts planning for the future

Published

Suffolk County Council is looking to the future as it considers plans for its Suffolk Archives branch in Bury St Edmunds.

As part of long-term planning for the Suffolk Archives service, the county council is looking at options for either remaining at its current location in Raingate Street or moving to the planned new Western Way Development. 

Councillor Bobby Bennett, 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.”

The planned hub development at Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, will introduce state of the art replacement leisure facilities, as well as health, education and other public services to a site which is already a close neighbour of West Suffolk College, the Abbeygate Sixth Form, several schools and the existing council offices. It is expected to open to the public in 2025. 

Councillor Jo Rayner, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Community Hubs for West Suffolk Council, 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.”

Suffolk County Council will be working with users of the branch, depositors of archive documents, and other key local stakeholders to show what the archives service would be able to offer in the future at either Raingate Street or the Western Way development, as well as how they can input into the council’s decision. 

No decision has been made and any proposed options for the Bury St Edmunds Archives Branch will be considered by Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet later in the year.