May 25 2013 Latest news:
BY RICHARD CORNWELL, Felixstowe editor
Friday, March 1, 2013
JOBS will be lost and businesses close down if Tesco is allowed to open a new superstore at Felixstowe, claims the town’s mayor.
Town councillors recommended refusal for the project and cited ten key reasons why the 30,000sq ft supermarket at Walton Green should not be built.
These included the impact on the town centre and Walton High Street, being against national and local policy, concerns that it would cause traffic congestion, use grade one farmland, and disturb residents with noise and light pollution.
The decision comes just weeks after the council rejected a project for a similar-sized store alongside Felixstowe railway station.
Both applications will be decided by Suffolk Coastal council, though not for some months yet.
Mayor Mike Deacon said a 30,000sq ft store would take millions of pounds spent at existing business in the town centre and Walton High Street – “revenue siphoned off into the coffers of Tesco”.
Government reports and the Mary Portas report had highlighted the impact of superstores on town centres and Suffolk Coastal’s new policy was to regenerate town centres and protect them from out of town shopping.
Mr Deacon said: “I believe there will be job losses and business failures among our existing independent retailers and supermarkets and this would not be beneficial to the economy or the character of our town.
“I was told by a Tesco representative that after visiting Tesco’s supermarket people will pop into the town centre or Walton High Street. Why would they? Dream on.”
Councillor Mike Stokell said it was the “sneakiest application” he had come across and believed it would have “a devastating impact on our town centre, far, far greater than we assume”.
Deputy mayor Jan Garfield said: “I think Tesco are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think people will walk to their store and walk back to the High Street again to a bit more shopping.
“People who use superstores don’t walk, they take cars, shop, have a coffee and drive home. They certain won’t touch shops in Walton High Street or drive into town.”
Only councillor Andy Smith was for the development, believing it would not destroy the town centre and would help break the habit of people shopping out of town.
■ Roy Gray, of the Walton Felixstowe Community First action group, said: “We are delighted that the right decision was made by the town council and that councillors had listened to their constituents. We know there is a way to go yet in the fight but this is a step in the right direction.”
■ Simon Petar, Tesco regional corporate affairs manager, said: “Our proposed development will bring much-needed jobs and added choice for residents and the community.
“It will bring enormous benefits to the town and support for our scheme is growing all the time.”