Resort could benefit from new food store

EXPERTS say Felixstowe needs a new foodstore to claw back trade being lost to out-of-town stores – and planners should start looking for a possible site.

EXPERTS say Felixstowe needs a new foodstore to claw back trade being lost to out-of-town stores – and planners should start looking for a possible site.

A team of consultants which has analysed the resort's centre also reckons that pedestrianisation is still needed, and more small-scale shopping developments.

CB Richard Ellis Ltd has carried out an analysis of all the shopping facilities in Suffolk Coastal's towns to help the council prepare the new local plan.

It says that customers from the Suffolk Coastal area currently spend £60 million a year at Sainsbury at Warren Heath, and the two Tesco stores at Martlesham – one-third of all spending by the area's residents on supermarket shopping.

That means other towns are losing out, one of them Felixstowe with many people opting to travel to Ipswich's eastern fringe rather than use Safeway, Solar or Tesco at the resort.

The consultants say Felixstowe has a viable town centre but must ensure that it does not lose any more shops to services or offices.

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"We consider there is, however, the potential to increase market share by recapturing some of the main food expenditure 'leaking' to the Ipswich eastern fringe through the development of a foodstore," said the consultants' report.

However, where such a store could be built is a big problem.

The town centre has no vacant sites and the only option would appear to be demolition of properties – a previous local plan suggested Marks and Spencer could be redeveloped into a shopping mall but the idea was not taken up.

It was rumoured three years ago that a major supermarket was considering redeveloping Garrison Lane car park, nearby shops and the bus station but this also fell through.

The consultants suggest that the new foodstore may have to be built as part of a new district centre development in the town with housing.

"Further investigation of these options would be the subject of a feasibility study addressing complex land assembly issues in the town centre, the sequential approach, and impact on existing stores in Felixstowe," said the report.

It also recommends a further study on how pedestrianisation can be extended in Hamilton Road – something traders would fight tooth and nail – to promote a pedestrian-friendly environment.

Priority should also be given to providing small-scale developments in the town centre, with Highfield Road, earmarked for possible change for a long time, still the favourite for an extension to the shopping area.

Felixstowe residents, groups and organisations have said the town could be improved by being traffic-free, with fewer charity shops and estate agents.

n How should Felixstowe town centre be improved – does the town need another foodstore? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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