Retail giant pulls out of move to town

A MULTI-million pound development that would have created new jobs in the centre of Stowmarket has been scrapped, it emerged today.

A MULTI-million pound development that would have created new jobs in the centre of Stowmarket has been scrapped, it emerged today.

Waitrose, the retailing giant, had been considering opening a store on the site of a former builder's yard in the town.

However, the firm has now announced that it is pulling out of the deal after months of speculation.

The move comes two years after M&S also drew back from a �9 million development on the site.

The latest set back is a bitter blow for the community which, like many towns, has a number of empty shops.

Anne Whybrow, town mayor and a county councillor, said: “This is not the end of the world. One door closes, another opens. We have just got to be positive and hope someone else will come onto the site.

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“Great things are happening in Stowmarket. Retailers will be clamouring to come to our town.

“The economic downturn will pass. New smaller shops are opening - it is not all bad news.”

Tim Passmore, leader of the Conservative/Independent run Mid Suffolk District Council, said: “This is disappointing.

“They (Waitrose) are basing it on the prevailing economic condition of the country which I fully understand. On the other hand they have said they are prepared to look again when things improve.

“Hopefully things will pick up in a year to 18 months. I am not trying to pretend this is not very disappointing, but all is not entirely lost and hopefully when the economic climate turns a corner next year, they will think again.

“We are also talking to other retailers who are expressing an interest. Nothing will put the redevelopment of Stowmarket in jeopardy.”

More than two years ago developers were given the go ahead for proposals that were forecast to bring a �9 million boost to the town, including a new M& S food store.

The major scheme at the former Seamans builders yard would have created more than 110 jobs, but M&S decided not to proceed with the deal.

A spokeswoman for the Waitrose said: “Following an extensive review of the old Seamans builders yard site in Stowmarket as a potential location for a Waitrose shop, we have been unable to find a solution that would enable us to deliver a commercially viable store.

“It is therefore with disappointment that we will not be able to pursue our interest in this site.”

Are you disappointed at Waitrose's decision to shun Stowmarket? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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