Asda set for Stoke Park

WORK could begin to build a new superstore in Ipswich in the New Year, The Evening Star can reveal today.Supermarket giant Asda has bought the run-down Stoke Park shopping centre and is looking to build a 25,000 sq ft supermarket at the site.

WORK could begin to build a new superstore in Ipswich in the New Year, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Supermarket giant Asda has bought the run-down Stoke Park shopping centre and is looking to build a 25,000 sq ft supermarket at the site.

The development could bring more than 100 new jobs to the town and rid the current shopping centre of problems with anti-social behaviour.

The news comes after months of negotiations between the previous owners, councillors and developers.

Roger Fern, Stoke Park councillor, said: "I am absolutely delighted at this news. We started about 18 months ago with a petition aimed at the borough council and the owners at the time.

"It has been a long while coming and I am very pleased indeed.

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"In the whole of Stoke Park there are a lot of people who are beginning to get a bit elderly and having shops nearby is important. There are probably thousands of people who live within striking distance of the centre."

Citygate Developments are working with Asda to build the new site and are looking to develop about 50 new homes and a range of retail units to compliment the store.

Bob Delafield, director of Citygate, said they were hoping to re-locate existing retailers in the complex.

He said: "In context the Whitehouse store is probably twice the size as this one but it will be quite substantial and will be a lot bigger than a convenience store.

"We want to have shops alongside it and we don't want it to be so big that it will take all the competition."

Mr Delafield said The Harlequin pub would also be demolished and no other pub was planned for the site.

Costcutter will also be lost but Mr Delafield said the hairdressers, bookmakers and Chinese take-away may all be viable in the new development.

It is also hoped a new medical centre will be built and discussions are planned with the primary care trust to discuss the possibilities of an improved surgery. The development is expected to take about a year to complete and will mean those currently living above shops in the centre will have to move for the duration of the work.

Mr Fern added: "We must make sure proper provision is made for the people who live and work at the centre. I have just produced a leaflet for them and someone from the housing advisory service and Jobcentre Plus will be at the Oasis coffee shop next Friday for one-on-one confidential chats."

A public meeting is to be held in September where the plans will be available for the community to discuss prior to an application being submitted to Ipswich council.

One of the major concerns for residents has been access to the site but Mr Delafield said initial discussions with the council had suggested traffic calming measures and possible 20mph speed restrictions along Stoke Park Drive.

N What do you think of Asda's plans? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail

Anwar Huq, of Lanercost Way, which backs on to the development, said: "This is great news. Whatever they do with that monstrosity will be great. It is good news for me and hopefully it will help the house prices go up.

"We get problems with kids and basically it's run down so they are trying to be macho in front of their girlfriends and doing all sorts of vandalism.

"It is good they are getting rid of the pub. I bought my house in 1987 and this was a beautiful place. There was a proper butchers and greengrocers and the lot.

"I worked in London for eight years and sadly, when I came back, it was a dump.

"The pub used to be lovely, there were fresh flowers everywhere and everything was well kept."

Marlene Willingham, 60, of Lanercost Way, was concerned cars may be able to access the development from her road.

She: "I don't mind about the development as long as we can still walk through from our road to the shops.

"The Asda store sounds a bit big and it's already pretty noisy with Costcutters because my bedroom backs on to there. I hope it isn't a 24-hour shop.

"Definitely something needs doing because it's a totally derelict eyesore."

John Wendes, 65, also of Lanercost Way, said: "It is a bit of a mess at the moment and I would welcome something being done to it. I am not really worried about the size of the shop but I don't know much about the centre as I haven't lived here long."

Julie Ware, 61, of Lanercost Way, said: "I am a bit worried about the flats because we don't know who will be going into them. I have heard they might be putting illegal immigrants in them.

"If its just houses like the rest of the estate I would be happy.

"I do use the shops but there is not much there. I have been here for 34 years, since the houses were built, and it was absolutely fantastic up there – you didn't even have to go into town.

"It is terrible now and I don't elike walking up there at night."

Janice Watson, 55, of Hedingham Close, said: "If there is going to be an Asda I wouldn't imagine that would be too bad once it is all finished.

"We haven't got many shops for the size of the estate and an Asda will sell everything.

"I have lived here for 25 years and it is a bit derelict at the moment. I don't come up to the shops when it's not light.

"It used to be a lovely shopping centre and when I had the children it had a launderette and a bank – we had everything. I feel sorry for the mums today because they have toddlers and have to take them into town and try to do shopping and carry bags and things."

Albert Leech, 74, of Grantham Crescent, said: "If it makes the area look tidier and it takes away the vandalism I am all for it. The whole place is tired now and wants replacing. I think this is a good idea – it looks a tip now.

"When it was first erected it was quite good and every shop was full.

"Anything would be a lot better than this. The vandalism is terrible and the doctors' surgery has had its doors smashed four or five times and all the shops are boarded up."

Kelly Adams, manager of Impressions hair salon in the centre, said: "At the moment we don't know if we are going to be out of work. What are we supposed to do while they are rebuilding? I hope we get good compensation but they haven't really spoken to us about that.

"I think it will be superb when it is done but I don't see why they have to take so long to build a few shops. We are going to lose our clients.

"We will probably have to run the business from home. I am not really going to go into another job, I can't see myself doing another job."

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