Is Next next for coastal resort?

FASHION giants Next could be heading for Felixstowe after receiving backing from the resort's community leaders today.

FASHION giants Next could be heading for Felixstowe after receiving backing from the resort's community leaders today.

There had been concern at whether allowing a major clothes store to open on the edge of the resort would damage the town centre by drawing away shoppers.

It was also feared the new development opposite Dock Gate One could become a mini mall to serve portworkers and even attract other stores to leave the town centre.

But town councillors said they are confident the main town centre shopping area would survive.

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The town plans committee is recommending Suffolk Coastal give permission for one of the five retail warehouses to be built by Tribecka Land Ltd on the Haven Exchange site in Walton Avenue to be used by Next or another clothes store. The others would be DIY, carpets, electrical goods or a garden centre.

Committee chairman Andy Smith said negotiations were still taking place over the final design of the development and a new plan was being submitted.

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However, the developers had been approached by Next about one of the units and this meant a change to the conditions which sought to prevent clothes and food shops to protect the town centre.

Mr Smith said there had been concerns when Safeway, now Morrisons superstore, opened on Cavendish Park that it would ruin the town centre.

He said: “We actually found food retail in Felixstowe has since gone from strength to strength - Iceland, Tesco and Solar have all refurbished, and Deben Butchers have moved to the town.

“We have a problem of people leaving Felixstowe to go to Ipswich when they need to buy something, and we need to stop that mindset.

“If we have electrical shops or Next in Walton Avenue, there will be more reason to stay and do all your shopping in town because the places are not far apart.

“For a lot of these companies the equivalent premises are not available in the town centre but this way we can keep them in the town.”

He said Hamilton Road, with attractions such as cheap parking, restaurants, the seafront nearby, and a range of shops, would not be affected.

Do you think Felixstowe needs more shops? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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