Civic Centre fears over superstore bid

A MASSIVE superstore proposed for the outskirts of Ipswich town centre could jeopardise the future prosperity of a revamped Civic Centre, it was claimed today.

A MASSIVE superstore proposed for the outskirts of Ipswich town centre could jeopardise the future prosperity of a revamped Civic Centre, it was claimed today.

Bosses at The New Wolsey Theatre have formally objected an application to build a multi-million development, including a large Tesco store, at the former B&Q site in Grafton Way.

The theatre board fears it will overshadow the potential revamp of the Civic Centre site, once a developer is found to take on the project.

However Tesco claims the Civic Centre would better suit a non-food retail establishment and would, therefore, mean there would not be any competition between the two sites.


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The proposals, submitted by Spenhill Regeneration, a subsidiary of Tesco, include an area which stretches along the river front from Princes Street Bridge to Stoke Bridge.

They include a superstore, 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.

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David Edwards, chairman of the New Wolsey Theatre board, said: “Our concern is with the future prosperity of the town centre and how that affects the future of the New Wolsey.

“Any retail centre that pulls people away from the town will inevitably have an impact on the community left in the centre.

“Any potential anchor development for the site next to the theatre is bound to be a similar business as the potential new Tesco development and would bring much-needed business into the town centre.

“At the moment the Wolsey is bursting at the seams. We need a new rehearsal space. It was agreed that part of the development could be constructed for our use.

“It is a very exciting opportunity but it cannot happen until and unless we get an anchor tenant.”

Nick Gellatly, Tesco corporate affairs manager, said: “The (Civic Centre) site is a fantastic opportunity for a different kind of retail business. It is probably not the best site for food retail. You would have a congestion problem around there.

“We think it is a good site for a John Lewis with maybe a smaller food store.

“We and our competitors looked at that site and no developer has yet been identified. If they got something of a different draw there, it could be quite positive.”

What do you think of the proposal? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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