July 24 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Ipswich Borough Council is preparing for battle with one of Britain’s fastest-growing retail chains.
B&M Homestore has had an outlet on the Ransomes Euro Retail Park since last May after moving into the unit vacated by Next.
However there is a condition on all the units at the retail park that they should sell mainly bulky goods. B&M sells food, household goods, drink, and a wide range of small items as well as bulky goods – everything from a pot of jam to a double bed.
It has been told to apply for permission to vary the condition – and its application is due to be heard by members of the planning and development committee next week.
However council officers are recommending members of the committee to turn down the application.
They say: “The development would be unacceptable in itself and as a precedent in that no evidence has been submitted as to the likely effects on the viability, vitality and vibrancy of existing centres due to the range of convenience and comparison goods on offer.”
The officers say B&M should consider moving into the former Co-op department store in Carr Street, or into a new store on the site of the former Civic Centre, which are both near large car parks.
Their stance was backed by Ipswich Central, whose chief executive Paul Clement said: “We need to prioritise retail in the town centre. It should be town centre only, not town centre first, and certainly not town centre last.”
The B&M store was very busy with bargain-hunters picking up items that were cheaper than in most supermarkets.
The company has been growing steadily over recent years and now has 370 stores nationwide. Its chairman is former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy. It also has a store at Copdock Mill – which is just outside the borough in Babergh district.
A spokesman for the company said it was continuing to have “constructive” talks with borough planners in the run-up to next week’s planning committee meeting and hoped that an amended recommendation would be put to councillors.
If the new application was not ready for next week, the company would be looking for the matter to be deferred until it was ready.
A spokesman for the borough said it was unable to make any further comment before the meeting.