Store giants eye their next moves

IPSWICH: Retailing giant Tesco is unlikely to start building its new store on Grafton Way in Ipswich until early next year after delays with securing final planning approval.

However it is still hoping that the huge store may open in time for Christmas 2011.

And while Tesco knows where its new store is going to be near the town centre, supermarket rival Waitrose is still looking for a site in the town.

For some time it has been thought that Waitrose could be the anchor tenant on the proposed “Westgate Centre” on the site of the former Civic Centre.

However it is unlikely there will be any move on that site until the Civic Drive police station is closed in 2013 – that site is seen as vital for the development of the Westgate Centre.

Waitrose will not comment on its plans for Ipswich, apart from saying that it remains keen to open a store in the area.

However it is also understood to be looking at the site of the Colchester Road fire station and possibly also at the Cranes site off Nacton Road.

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After Tesco was given planning permission to develop a superstore at Grafton Way earlier this year, the company had said it hoped to start work during the late summer or early autumn.

However a spokeswoman for the company said they still had to tie up loose ends with the authorities.

She said: “We are very excited about our plans to bring houses, jobs and leisure facilities as well as a superstore to Grafton Way.

“We are keen to start work as soon as possible, but although planning consent has been agreed we are still awaiting final permission to begin construction. At the moment, this is unlikely to start before the end of the year.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said he was very keen to ensure that retailers were encouraged to build as near the town centre as possible.

He said: “While I don’t want to talk about the merits of one company over another, I am keen that the town centre should attract more big names.

“Clearly the Civic Centre site is very important and I will do all I can to encourage its development over the next few years.”

n Does Ipswich do enough to attract top-quality stores to the town? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail: eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk