Ipswich: “Leave B&M on the edge of town” – top Tory’s parting shot at borough planners
11:59 22 May 2014
Attempts by Ipswich planners to stop discount store B&M from selling its full range from its store at Ransomes have come under fire from departing Tory councillor Judy Terry.
The former borough executive member – and county council cabinet member – poured scorn on planners’ hopes of seeing B&M moving into the former Co-op department store in Carr Street.
She said: “That’s just what the town centre needs! We’ve got two Poundlands, a 99p Store, a Yippee it’s 99p Store, and QD.
“I’ve got nothing against them, but what Ipswich town centre needs is some really top names to attract shoppers from a wider area, something like a Zara.”
She did not think shoppers from places like Bury St Edmunds, Woodbridge and Framlingham would be enticed to Ipswich town centre by the prospect of another discount store.
“Anyway B&M mainly operates from retail parks like this and it’s very successful. I went to see the store at Ransomes after seeing it on the agenda and seeing the coverage in the Star.
“I was impressed by what it had to offer – and it’s got a lot of shoppers going there.”
Meanwhile speculation is rising that B&M is looking at the possibility of opening a third store on the edge of Ipswich, this time on the Bury Road retail park near Asda.
A spokesman for the company would not comment on reports it was looking at moving into the former Comet store at the site – but we understand that staff at its existing stores at Ransomes and Copdock believe a third site could be opening there.
The fast-growing discount chain this week formally withdrew its application to relax strict planning conditions on its store at Ransome’s Euro Retail park which are aimed at preventing it from selling non-bulky goods.
That could ultimately lead to the borough taking enforcement action against it because much of its stock – which ranges from bars of chocolate to garden benches – is considered non-bulky.
It is thought that B&M may be waiting until later in the summer to consider its next move.
Supermarket giant Morrisons has applied to convert half of the B&Q store at the other end of the retail park into a superstore.
If that is given the go-ahead B&M could argue that they should be allowed to trade on the same basis as Morrisons.
Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said Mrs Terry was entitled to her views, but he did not agree with her about the town centre.
He said: “There is a wide diversity of shops in the town centre and an increasing number of high-quality independents.
“There is room for all types of shops and it is right that they should be encouraged in the town centre.”