Don’t let Toys R Us turn into an eyesore say Ipswich civic leaders

Toys R Us Copdock. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Toys R Us Copdock. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Business and political leaders have called for a swift decision on the future of the Ipswich Toys R Us store which is due to close within the next six weeks.

The store, on the Interchange Retail Park at Copdock Mill, is a landmark for people approaching the town from the A12 south of Ipswich.

With its distinctive sign it has become known as “nearly home” landmark for travellers as they approach the town at the end of a long journey.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said: “That is an important site. It is the first thing people see of Ipswich and I hope it isn’t empty for long – that it doesn’t become an eyesore.”

The retail park is just outside the borough boundary in Babergh – but Mr Ellesmere hoped the planners there would work with the owners of the site to find a new use for the building which opened in 1991.

He said: “I hope they look at whether it should stay one large unit or be split up into smaller stores or leisure outlets. We have to ensure it does not become derelict.”

The Interchange Retail Park is owned by a local authority pension fund – and the Toys R Us store is one of its largest tenants – it is near the huge Tesco superstore.

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Ipswich Vision Chairman Terry Hunt agreed with Mr Ellesmere that it was important that there was an attractive entrance to the town.

He said: “We all know that is the first building you see as you approach Ipswich from the A12 and it is so important that it gives the right impression for people arriving in Ipswich.”

It was vital that the entrance to the town remained smart and tidy – and he hoped the owners and the council would work together to find a new use for the building.

Administrators for Toys R Us announced last week that the remaining 75 stores across the country were likely to close by the end of April.

Poor Christmas trading, combined with a £15m VAT bill from HM Revenue & Customs, finally forced the business over the edge last month and closure looked inevitable from that point.

Its retail warehouses are large – it may be too large for a single tenant. But the relaunch of the Anglia Retail Park with the former B&Q store being split has shown smaller units can be successful.

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