Tesco expansion bid could be thrown out

TESCO'S bid to build a major extension to one of their out of town superstores looks set to be thrown out amid fears it will kill the town centre.Mid Suffolk District Council is considering whether to grant planning permission for the retail giant to develop its operation on the large Cedars Park estate, where hundreds of new homes have been built.

TESCO'S bid to build a major extension to one of their out of town superstores looks set to be thrown out amid fears it will kill the town centre.

Mid Suffolk District Council is considering whether to grant planning permission for the retail giant to develop its operation on the large Cedars Park estate, where hundreds of new homes have been built.

The extension at the site in the middle of a major new housing development would create 56 new jobs at the store, which has long wanted to offer a wider range in areas including books, clothing and toys.

But officers at the authority are recommending the plans are thrown out, arguing that new development should be within town centres.

Both the Stowmarket Society and the town council have called for the plans to be refused, fearing the viability of the town centre will be harmed, and smaller traders will suffer.

But members of the Cedars Park Residents' Association asked shoppers at the site recently what they thought of the plans and within four hours they had collected more than 480 signatures supporting the expansion.

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Roger Willison-Gray, chairman of the association, said: “All that will happen is that we will all continue to drive to Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds for the bigger stores. It's stupid, they (the council) have taken no notice of very strong opinions from people who live there. The council is being quite cavalier.”

A spokesman for Tesco said: “We would expect any extension to bring more people to Stowmarket and therefore bring further economic benefits to the area and potential opportunities to other traders.

“It's a long way to drive to Bury St Edmunds or Ipswich and we want to provide the sort of new food and non-food ranges we know people expect from us.”

Peter Goodyear, a senior planning officer with the council, said if Tesco's got the go-ahead it would undermine the regeneration of the town.

Councillors on Mid Suffolk District Council's planning committee will meet on Wednesday from 9.30am at their chambers in Needham Market to debate the expansion.