Businesses unite against Tesco proposals

CONCERNED Ipswich businesses were today united in their criticism of proposals to build a giant supermarket on the outskirts of the town centre.

CONCERNED Ipswich businesses were today united in their criticism of proposals to build a giant supermarket on the outskirts of the town centre.

The strength of feeling among the majority of Ipswich Central's 700 stakeholders over plans for a major Tesco store is such that it has made its first ever official response to an individual planning application.

The controversial multi-million pound development of the former B&Q site in Grafton Way, which includes a Tesco superstore, hotels, and residential properties, has sparked debate from the public and the business community.

At 86,000sq ft, the Tesco store would dwarf the company's supermarket at Copdock.


You may also want to watch:


William Coe, chairman of Ipswich Central, said the organisation will vow to campaign against the application and lobby planning chiefs.

He said: “We are not anti-Tesco, we are anti-Tesco in this particular place.

Most Read

“The overwhelming majority of feedback from our stakeholders says that this application should be rejected for a number of reasons. This is not in the long term interest of Ipswich.”

Over the last six weeks, a number of meetings have been held among the sub groups of Ipswich Central, including independent traders and large stores. There have also been talks with developers Spenhill Regeneration, a subsidiary of Tesco, to hear their views.

Ipswich Central has sent a letter to Ipswich Borough Council planners, which states: “Most businesses felt it would lead to further business closure over time, job losses and hinder other potential developments to the long term detriment of the town centre overall.”

One of Ipswich Central's key objections to the application is that the store would be trading at the lower end of the price structure, a market which they believe is already over-represented in the town centre.

Mr Coe said: “We do not believe it is going to help the town centre in attracting spend. We need a higher trading value - not more value products.”

Although businesses are keen to see the area developed, they felt the development did not “add or enhance the appeal of the town centre”. Firms also claimed that the site is on the fringe of the town centre, meaning people were unlikely to combine a food shop with a trip to other shops in the town.

The link to the town centre is a problem, businesses claim, with the busy roads nearby effectively creating a barrier.

Congestion was also raised as a concern, given that the roundabout near St Peter's Church is one of the main bottlenecks in Ipswich.

What is your view? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

If you want to make your views known on this application, write to Ipswich Borough Council, 15-17 Russell Road

Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 2DE.

Ipswich Central is encouraging anyone with objections to write to the planning department at the council. They can also log their objections by signing Ipswich Central's online petition. This will then be delivered to the planning office.

Mr Coe said: “We would encourage anyone who feels strongly about this to write to the council. The more objections, the stronger chance of it being rejected.”

To sign the petition, visit www.ipswichcentral.com/fightback

TESCO today claimed there would be a number of benefits if their proposals are rubberstamped - including the regeneration of the area and a boost to employment.

Nick Gellatly, corporate affairs manager, explained the company was working closely with the job centre.

Although he couldn't say the exact number of jobs the development would bring, he said it was likely to be in excess of 100.

He said: “We want to make sure the jobs in store are operated through the local framework to ensure that local people get the best opportunities. We want to be able to help them.”

He said having a car park on the site would also be a massive advantage, as other businesses and organisations, like Dance East, were “crying out for a town centre car park”.

Mr Gellatly said: “We have done this before and have got a bit of experience. People in Beccles have been using the car park and not coming into the store first. They go into town first and then do their supermarket shopping.

“On average 30 million people shop in a supermarket. We think people will use the opportunity to do supermarket shopping when they are in town.

“It is in our interest that the vitality of Ipswich increases. We want to be a part of it.”

With the site located less than five minutes walk from the centre of Ipswich, Tesco envisage that people will walk into town.

The company plans to look into installing a pedestrian crossing and more signs to ensure proper links with the town.

The firm is also looking at public transport and the possibility of a hopper bus between the riverside and town centre.

Mr Gellatly said: “Our transport consultants are working with highways. We do not want congestion to be worse. We understand that if there is gridlock, people would not come to our store. We want our scheme to be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

“We think it will draw trade back to the town centre.”

Despite concerns by some independent traders, Mr Gellatly said specialist shops in Ipswich, such as Memorable Cheeses and the town market, offer something very different to their store.

“The market seems to be forward thinking in terms of the kind of initiatives it has. It has international markets and has increased the days of the week that it is available to people. There is something a bit different shopping at a market. Supermarket shopping is a chore but with market shopping there is a more personal relationship with the seller,” he claimed.

He added: “We want to know what local people think. We want to find ways of doing this together and would say to people to come and talk to us.

“This is what the riverside is calling for. This is about great value shopping for local people, getting local people back into employment and regenerating the town centre.”

Jobs for local people

Regenerate the area

Free car park for 24 hours

Provides facilities for those looking for housing or places to stay in town

Offers value goods to people

Improves the riverside image

More congestion

Won't enhance appeal of town as already have range of value products on offer

Competition for other businesses in town

The site does not appeared to be served by public transport

Two other key sites for Ipswich, the Mint Quarter and Civic Centre need developing first

Hotels could restrict other potential hotel developments such as St Peter's Port

PROPOSALS include a Tesco store, which would be about 86,000sq ft, with around 660 parking spaces, up to 12 other retail units, 100 residential units, two hotels - budget and a three-star - and a fitness and beauty facility.

The Copdock Tesco store is about 55,000sqf.

Planning permission has already been sought by Spenhill Regeneration, a subsidiary of Tesco, although the design of the site, which stretches along the river front from Princes Street Bridge to Stoke Bridge, is still subject to change and discussions with Ipswich Borough Council are ongoing.

The planning application is due to go in front of the council's committee in late summer and a few weeks before this, officers will either recommend it to be approved or rejected. If it is approved by councillors, it could be two years before the development is built.

THE Evening Star launched a poll on its website (www.eveningstar.co.uk) asking people if they would like to see the store built.

More than half of the 658 people who responded to a poll about a proposed major Tesco development in Ipswich voted in favour of it.

Attracting one of the biggest responses yet to an online poll, 56 per cent (369 people) were in favour of it, while 44pc (289 people) disagreed.

Some of the views shared on our website:

Ross Wishart: The site is derelict. Surely any plan to vastly improve and regenerate an area whilst bringing hundreds of jobs in this economic climate is a good thing.

Samantha Catchpole: I can understand why people are objecting but in today's climate surely the prospect of jobs for more people should out weigh the negativity.

Shahid Khan: No point- we already have Sainsbury's. If you live in town it's perfect to walk to, and anyone can just drive up the road to the Copdock branch. So save your pennies and build something useful.

Mohammed Ziyad: We don't need another Tesco in town because all small businesses go under. Tesco is a supermarket- not a corner shop to open every corner and street. Please help all the small businesses and say no to Tesco.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus