Tesco decision splits town

IPSWICH: Fears for the town centre are today increasing following the approval for what would be the EIGHTH superstore to be built with five miles of the Cornhill.

Tesco’s victory in its application to build a new superstore at the heart of a new Grafton Way development has prompted a massive response to the Star’s website and letters column.

A majority of the comments are opposed to the proposed new store – warning that it will kill off the town centre, add to traffic chaos, or is unneccesary.

However others have welcomed the decision by the borough’s planning and development committee to approve the scheme – saying it will regenerate a run-down area of the town and give Ipswich a major jobs boost during the heart of the recession.

The new store – which will have a sales space about the size of that of Tesco’s Copdock Mill store – will be built on the site of the former B&Q store.

Tesco bosses hope that the final approval by the Government Office of the East of England (Go-East) will be given early in the summer and that work on the site can start in the autumn – allowing the store to open its doors at Christmas 2011.

That would bring the number of superstores within the “A14/A12 box” up to eight - three Tescos, two Asdas, two Sainsburys’ and a Morrisons’.

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There is also a Tesco superstore at Stowmarket, a Tesco supermarket at Kesgrave, and Tesco “local” stores at Duke Street, Nacton Road, Bramford Road, and St Matthew’s Street in Ipswich and at Hamilton Road in Felixstowe.

Sainsbury’s has a food store in Ipswich town centre, Morrison’s a superstore at Cavendish Park in Felixstowe and Asda a superstore in the heart of Stowmarket.

The East of England Co-op has supermarkets and neighbourhood stores across the area.

Ipswich Central, which represents retailers and other businesses in the heart of the town, has opposed the development of the new Grafton Way store.

It has pointed out it is outside the central shopping area and fears it could take trade away from existing businesses.

Ipswich Central chairman William Coe said the organisation was now going to talk to its members before deciding on its next move.

“We have a couple of weeks before we have to give our representations to Go-East and we shall be speaking to our members before making any decision about representations to them.

“They have to decide whether to continue the fight – or to say we have to look at how to live with this decision. There is time for a considered response.”

There is major concern that the decision will kill off hopes of a major development at the Westgate Centre – on the site of the former Civic Centre.

Chris Goldsmith, managing director of developer Turnstone Estates, has warned: “This decision will make it very difficult for developers like us for years ahead. This will cause great damage to the town centre.”