Ipswich planners expected to give approval to Lidl at Futura Park
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Ipswich councillors are being advised to give permission for discount retailers Lidl to build a large new supermarket on Futura Park opposite their current site at Ravenswood.
But the German-owned company is likely to be told that it will have to make a contribution to make sure the Ravenswood shopping centre on the other side of Nacton Road can survive after it closes its existing smaller store there.
Lidl has been part of the Ravenswood shopping centre since it opened at the turn of the current century, but its existing store is smaller than most of its other supermarkets.
It is also difficult for shoppers who do not live on Ravenswood to reach.
It emerged that it wanted to move across the road to the last vacant plot on Futura Park, by its entrance on to Nacton Road, in January last year when an application for a drinks licence for the site was submitted.
Since then there were months of discussions with borough planners before a formal planning application was submitted in March.
It will be discussed at next Wednesday's borough planning and development committee meeting - with officers recommending that councillors allow planning chiefs to grant permission subject to conditions.
A key element of this is that the applicants should find an alternative use for the existing store within a defined time period - or pay to "improve the vitality and viability" of the existing Ravenswood shopping centre.
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The new Lidl store would have a sales area of 1,414 square metres and a car park for 121 vehicles. It would also have a new pedestrian access leading to the crossing on Nacton Road and the Ravenswood housing estate.
Lidl expects to see sales increase by 30-40% in its new store in comparison with its current supermarket.
Figures to be presented to the meeting show that there will be an impact on other supermarkets nearby - Sainsbury's Warren Heath, Waitrose on Futura Park and Aldi on Felixstowe Road.
Lidl had said it hoped the new store would be open in time for the Christmas season - but the planning application has slipped from its initial hopes that it would be discussed in the early spring.
However, the site is ready for bulldozers to move in if the application is approved.