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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 018 - Responding to character

018 - arc, Bury St Edmunds

Working in close partnership, the Local Authority and its preferred developer have produced “arc”, a retailled, mixed-use scheme that is responsive to the historic character of Bury St Edmunds. Located immediately west of the historic core, the former cattle market site had been identified in the Local Plan as an area for town centre expansion. As the owner of most of the site, the Local Authority decided upon a design competition to find a preferred development partner.

The selected developer, Centros, with its architect Hopkins, designed a scheme that effectively extended the medieval street pattern by creating a new public square and two new open shopping streets linking with the town centre. A unique, standalone Debenhams department store – in the shape of a clamshell – provides the essential retail anchor, while apartments on two floors above the shops line the new streets. A multi-purpose, 500-seat cultural venue provides a vibrant community heart.

The high-quality scheme has a scale and density appropriate to the character of the town and, through its permeability, helps to integrate shops and facilities located beyond the site, previously regarded as “fringe development”.

Other Information

  • Key partners: St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Centros
  • Masterplanner & architect: Hopkins Architects
  • Weblink:

UDC2 Section - Sowing the Seedg the Seed  

Marylebone High Street has retained its character by encouraging independent retailers and minimising the number of multi-national retailers.Images (image bank)