Mystery over future of Warren Heath Homebase site

Plans have been lodged for development at the Homebase store in Warren Heath Picture: ARCHANT

Plans have been lodged for development at the Homebase store in Warren Heath Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Fresh plans for the Homebase store in Warren Heath has raised questions over the future of the site after confirmation the store would be one that is closing.

In August the DIY retailer said the store would be one of 42 across the country set to close as part of cost-cutting measures. It is due to close later this year or early 2019.But a planning application submitted for the site by F&C UK Property Fund has sought full planning permission to move the garden centre from the site of the building to the back, and outline permission to build a drive-through retail unit or cafe/restaurant.The application does not make any reference to the Homebase store closure, or any potential new tenants.A spokesman from Homebase said its plan for the store had not changed, and would still be closing in late 2018 or early 2019.The Homebase unit currently only has permission for DIY and garden centre retail, meaning an application requesting a change of use would be needed if another retailer wanted to occupy the unit.The application report prepared by agents Lichfields said: “As part of the proposals the Homebase covered garden centre will be removed along with the existing canopy.“The garden centre will be relocated to the rear of the Homebase unit and will be uncovered.“The application proposal therefore results in a net reduction in enclosed retail floorspace on the application site.”It is not yet clear if the building is being lined up for another DIY retailer to fill, which would not need additional planning permission.The second part of the proposal seeks outline permission for a drive through unit, for use either as retail or for a restaurant and cafe.A spokesman from Lichfields has been approached for comment but was not available at the time of publication.The plans are currently open for public consultation before going to Suffolk Coastal District Council’s planning committee, likely to be later this month or early December.The application added: “Overall the proposal will have a positive impact on economic development through the creation of new jobs.”Earlier this year planning permission was granted for an extension of the existing store for a retail pod, while planning permission was approved twice in the past – once in May 1995 and again in May 2001 – for extensions to the garden centre.