Huge Tesco planned for town centre

A TESCO supermarket larger than the one in Copdock could be built in the town centre, prompting outrage today from the community.

Naomi Cassidy

A TESCO supermarket larger than the one in Copdock could be built in the town centre, prompting outrage today from the community.

There are fears that the proposed multi-million pound development at the former B&Q site in Grafton Way could cripple other businesses in the vicinity and increase the already heavy traffic congestion in the area.

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

The Copdock Tesco store is about 55,000sqf.

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The Ipswich Society has lodged its formal objection to the plans and is hoping to get the backing of the whole community.

Mike Cook, a member of the committee, said: “The Society is extremely concerned about this application.

“We think this is the most important application, in terms of serious changes in the town centre of Ipswich, in recent years. It is more important than any single application other than the waterfront.

“It will be most destructive to smaller shops and will affect whatever happens at the Civic Centre site. I do not think there should be a huge supermarket in the middle of the town.”

John Norman, vice-chairman of the Society, added: “They can say it creates more jobs but it will mean we will lose jobs in the town centre from other places closing because of this.”

The society is also against the limited vehicular access to the retail development, which is only via Grafton Way. Members want to see an independent traffic survey carried out together with a retail survey to see whether such a development is necessary.

Spenhill Regeneration said it is working closely with a number of agencies and added that it was possible plans could be redesigned as they go through the design process.

It is thought the decision on the development could take months or even years.

A Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said: “We are still in discussions with the applicants. The decision will not be imminent.”

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

Representatives from Spenhill visited the town recently to discuss the proposals with groups under the Business Improvement District (BID), including groups for independent retailers, and larger stores.

BID will now formulate its official response, which will be passed onto Ipswich Borough Council in the next few weeks.

Spenhill Regeneration view:-

Nick Gellatly, spokesman for Spenhill Regeneration, said the firm was grateful for the Ipswich Society's comments and will be meeting Mr Cook later this month to clarify and discuss all the issues.

Mr Gellatly said: “We are in positive discussions with the council about aspects of the scheme. In particular, we are working through design amendments to refine and enhance the scheme.

“Our scheme provides a key part of a new flood defence system, agreed with the Environment Agency. This creates a riverside walk and cycleway going from the railway station through to the docks area and town centre.

“We are also working closely with the Highway Authority looking at different traffic improvements, all of which will coordinate with the existing network.

“The huge demand for more shopping in Ipswich is well documented. Without more and better shops in and around the town centre, people from across the region will continue to choose Norwich and Colchester rather than come in to Ipswich.”