Tower crane changes Bury St Edmunds skyline

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Bury St Edmunds crane
The crane going up in Bury St Edmunds (Photo: Warren Page)

A milestone in the redevelopment of the former Post Office on Bury St Edmunds Cornhill has taken place this week with the installation of an 18-metre-high tower crane.

St Andrews Street South between Woolhall Street and Brentgovel Street was shut for 48 hours to allow the tower crane to be delivered to the site in sections using articulated low loaders. A smaller 35-tonne mobile crane was then used to lift and land the sections to form the tower, and the slewing ring and cab were then put on top. The main jib, which is 40 metres long, was assembled on the road before being lifted into place.

The Terrex Comedil Luffing Jib tower crane will now form part of the Bury St Edmunds skyline for the next seven months and marks a pivotal stage in the redevelopment of the former Post Office, which is being carried out by Suffolk firm Barnes Construction on behalf of West Suffolk Council.

Barnes is working with its appointed architects, Concertus Design and Property Consultants and structural engineers, Superstructures, to deliver the complex scheme. And, to enable the tower crane to take up its new home, a six-metre square, one and a half meter deep concrete base has been installed.

Towering skyline feature (Photo: Superstructures)

Craig Carr, Associate at Superstructures said: “It is imperative that the crane stays in place when it is lifting materials around the site and when it is stationary. It will be cantilevering out of the ground, so ensuring its stability to carry the weights and stay upright in all weather conditions is critical. To allow this, the tower crane is held in place by a large concrete base, which is supported by piles, and which acts as a counterweight.”

Now the tower crane is up, it will used to lift the components needed to assemble the steel frame, as well as lifting in all the masonry, plasterboard and heavy materials needed to complete construction.

When completed in Summer 2022, the building will still have its Victorian façade, but behind the frontage the building will provide new purpose-built ground floor commercial units with 12 flats above. Commercial floor space will be reconfigured to allow Market Thoroughfare, a walkway between the historic town centre and the arc shopping centre, to be widened by over 50 per cent, while a new commercial frontage is also being created onto St Andrews Street South. This will help connect the arc and the Cornhill and Buttermarket area as one coherent town centre and ensure maximum footfall between the two areas. The investment will also deliver on some of the aspirations of the town centre masterplan shaped by 8,000 public comments and adopted by the Council in 2017.

Heavy lifting in Bury (Photo: Warren Page)

Mark Bailey, Director for Barnes Construction said. “We are pleased to have been entrusted to redevelop this important site on Cornhill to become a long-term asset for the town. A key aspect for us throughout the build, is that we work with the local business community and retailers, to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum and the project goes as smoothly as possible. So, it is great news that the tower crane is up before the town hopefully opens back up on April 12.”

Julie Baird, West Suffolk Council’s Director for Growth said: “This is another important construction milestone within our project. We are pleased with progress on site, this represents such a positive signal for business and investors at a time when businesses are planning to reopen.  Our investment is one in the long-term future of the town centre, with Bury St Edmunds being a place people will continue to come to shop, to eat or drink, relax, socialise, as well as enjoy other leisure and cultural events and activities such as those we hold in The Apex, as part of our markets, and in the Abbey Gardens.”

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