Bury St Edmunds: Milkmaid Folk Arts Centre is granted permission for old railway building

Terry Walden is pictured at the back of Bury Railway Station outside the building he is hoping to transform into The Milkmaid Folk Music Arts Centre. Terry Walden is pictured at the back of Bury Railway Station outside the building he is hoping to transform into The Milkmaid Folk Music Arts Centre.

Mariam Ghaemi West Suffolk senior reporter mariam.ghaemi@archant.co.uk
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
1:00 PM

A music, dance and arts centre for people with disabilities can go ahead after organisers were granted planning permission for the project.

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The Milkmaid Folk Arts Centre community interest company will transform an old railway building at Bury St Edmunds train station into a venue where people with disabilities can access music, art, drama and dance connected to folk, as well as being open to the community to hire in the evenings.

Last week St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee granted approval to the plans to convert Downside into the Milkmaid Folk Arts Centre.

Terry Walden, chairman of the centre, said the £450,000 to £500,000 project had been delayed following objections on the grounds of highways safety and parking, which meant the committee had to make a decision on the proposal.

Mr Walden said he was thrilled approval had been granted, adding he had been looking for a building for the centre since 2007.

“It’s going to be more than just a centre for people to be dropped off and looked after for the day,” he said. “It’s going to be a centre where people get to grips with art and dance and music and so on.”

He said the venue, which he hopes could open next year, would mean activities Milkmaid is already running could be brought together under one roof, and new ones could be started. For example, currently the Milkmaid Molly dancing group, for people with and without disabilities, is based in Guildhall Street, Bury.

Mr Walden said the Railway Heritage Trust had pledged about £160,000 towards the refurbishment of the Grade II listed building, adding that now planning permission was in place it would be easier to apply for funding.

He said there would be several rooms at the venue, which would be able to seat 120 evening guests. He said: “It will be limited parking there but we are going to let it be known there’s no parking at the venue and people can park in St Andrew’s Street and walk up, or there’s a private car park between the station and Brazilia [nightclub], which I know in the long-term will go, but who knows when that’s going to be.”

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