DIY store hopes third time lucky
A DIY chain wanting to open its doors in Stowmarket is hoping its proposals will be accepted on the third time of asking.Plans to build a Focus (DIY) in the town will be under the spotlight again today as the town council decides whether to give the scheme its backing.
A DIY chain wanting to open its doors in Stowmarket is hoping its proposals will be accepted on the third time of asking.
Plans to build a Focus (DIY) in the town will be under the spotlight again today as the town council decides whether to give the scheme its backing.
The project, to include a 113-space car park and neighbouring garden centre, has been supported by town councillors twice in the past.
But Mid Suffolk District Council has gone on to reject it each time amid fears it will affect the local wildlife and because it does not fit in with its planning strategy.
Marilyn Finbow, chairwoman of the town council's planning and amenities committee, said: "We have always recommended approval of this proposal and very much support the idea of a DIY store in Stowmarket.
"I will be very surprised if the rest of the council don't show support again as it's not good for the town if people go and spend elsewhere."
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The proposed site for the 25,000 sq ft store is off Bridge Street and Gipping Way, along the River Gipping. It is currently home to a mass of overgrown shrubs and trees. The proposed garden centre is also significant in size at 10,000 sq ft.
The need for a DIY store was highlighted in a town centre study commissioned by the district council.
It said such a shop would stop people travelling to larger towns but recommended any development be close to the centre of the town.
Focus has looked at an alternative site in Prentice Road but say it is "not suitable for a modern DIY store".
David Shaw, of Focus (DIY), said: "This is an identical application that was determined by the authority on February 11 though we have re-examined the need and sequential approach.
"We consider the additional analysis we have undertaken provides good reasoning for why the authority should reconsider its decision."
Denis Barnard, chairman of Stowmarket Chamber of Commerce, said: "I would support any business that's prepared to invest in the town. We've got one small DIY store in Combs Ford, which seems to be doing quite well, but there would be room for both of them.
"It's got to be a good thing. If Mid Suffolk District Council don't back this one you've got to wonder why."
The council's committee will discuss the plans at the council chambers, Milton Road South, at 7pm tonight.
The district council should decide whether to accept or reject the plans within eight weeks.
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