Poll: “Marmite” store on the way as Tesco is set to take over iconic Ipswich town centre site

Former Croydons building that may become a Tesco store.

Former Croydons building that may become a Tesco store.

Britain’s biggest retailer is set to move into one of the best-known stores in the heart of Ipswich.

Tesco is set to create a new “Express” store in the Tavern Street site that was previously the home of iconic jewellers Croydons.

The move will not require planning permission because it is already a shop, but Tesco has had to apply to the borough council for a drinks licence to sell alcohol.

This says that its opening hours will be 8am to 11pm seven days a week.

The application will be considered by the borough’s licencing committee sometime after July 14 – but it would be a major surprise if it was turned down.

It is understood that Tesco would only use the ground floor of the former jewellers’ shop, which had also been a branch of outdoor retailers Blacks in recent years, but the first floor would be used for storage and staff accommodation.

The company was not able to say how many jobs would be created by the new store – but the new Tesco Express stores that opened in Foxhall Road and Norwich Road at the end of last year created about 30 jobs between them.

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The timescale for the opening of the store has not been revealed, but it is expected that it could be trading during the autumn.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said the new store was bound to divide opinion in the town: “This will certainly be a ‘Marmite’ application – people either love Tesco or hate them.

“But given that it will bring an important store in the town centre back to life and it will create a number of jobs then that has to be welcomed.

“And it will complement the town centre, not be a threat to it as their proposed huge store at Grafton Way would have been.”

Mr Ellesmere said it would also be a boost for the night-time economy: “Given that it will have long opening hours, like the Little Waitrose, it will help to stimulate the town centre night-time economy which is currently dominated by pubs and restaurants.”

He said it would also help to encourage more people to move into flats and houses in the town centre.

No one from Tesco was able to give any details about the proposed opening – but the company is looking to develop more smaller stores as shoppers have turned away from superstores over recent years.

It had spent several years on planning a major new store at Grafton Way which would have been the centrepiece of a major development including hotels, homes and smaller stores.

After several planning battles it dropped those plans in spring of last year and has now put the land – previously occupied by a B&Q store – up for sale.

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