Ipswich planners reject Morrison’s store application in bid to save the town centre

Former Civic Centre, Ipswich

Former Civic Centre, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Borough planners have rejected an application to turn most of the B&Q store on the eastern edge of town into a new Morrisons supermarket.

They made the decision in a bid to protect Ipswich town centre – but there are fears that their decision could raise a question mark over the huge B&Q store.

And there could still be an appeal from Morrisons if the company is determined to go ahead with the development.

The borough’s planning and development committee yesterday voted against the proposal to split B&Q’s store at the Sandlings retail park off Ransomes Road.

Members voted nine to three against the proposal, with only the three Tory members of the committee supporting the move.

The majority made the decision in a bid to protect the viability of the town centre and the Waterfront – and hoped that a new supermarket would rather go on the Westgate (Civic Centre) site or next to the former Tolly Cobbold brewery at Cliff Quay.

Matt Coke, from B&Q, said the large retail unit that his company had opened on the site several years ago was no longer appropriate to its trading – and it would be better operating from a smaller unit.

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However councillors were concerned that a large Morrisons on the site would not boost the town centre – while such a store on either the Westgate or Brewery sites would bring substantial benefits.

There was also concern about the amount of parking available at the site.

Chief planning officer Steve Miller said that normally a supermarket of the size of the proposed Morrisons would need 501 spaces, but only 388 were proposed.

Liberal Democrat councillor Cathy French feared the new store would add to traffic congestion in the area.

She said: “Never mind the congestion from the Sainsbury’s roundabout to the Thrasher roundabout already, at busy times traffic is at a standstill from St Augustine’s in one direction and right back to the A14 at Nacton in the other.

“That is bad enough, but add to that the impact on the town centre. I cannot support this.”

Conservatives on the committee felt the promise of 300 jobs was important – with former council deputy leader John Carnall urging committee members to “be realistic” and accept such a supermarket would not be built anywhere else in the town.

But planning spokeswoman Carole Jones (Labour) said it was vital to protect the town centre and reject the proposal.

The decision was welcomed by Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement, who said: “Well done to the council.

“It’s not easy rejecting large retailers like this but the policy of ‘town centre only’ must now be the right one.”