Too high a price to have Waitrose here

I’M a fan of Waitrose and I’ve felt for years that it should be allowed to come to Ipswich – it’s absence is a big gap for the town.

As regular readers will have seen in this column last week, I feel it would be good to have a Waitrose and an “At Home” store from its parent company John Lewis on the former Crane site at Nacton Road.

And I’m also pleased that the company wants to open a small store in the town centre.

However, after considerable thought and looking at all the arguments I’m becoming less and less convinced that The Corn Exchange is the right place for a small Waitrose.

When the borough first said it wanted to convert part of the Corn Exchange to another use, it was talking about a coffee shop or restaurant. That would be a great idea and would completely complement the leisure use of the rest of the building.

A small supermarket, however upmarket, will cause conflict both as work is under way and once it is operating.

With the number of students in the town increasing, it is likely that an increasing number of “indie” bands will want to play at a 900-space venue where seats can be removed and where will those 900 visitors go to get their interval drinks if most of the Robert Cross Hall is absorbed by Waitrose?

Most Read

It’s not as if there are no other sites for a small supermarket in town – there are empty units in both the Buttermarket and Tower Ramparts centres. There are shops coming and going in prime locations along the “Golden Mile” all the time. I can’t help feeling the borough would do better to help steer Waitrose in their direction rather than just looking to make a fast buck.

I know councils are strapped for cash at present and that a Waitrose windfall would be welcome, but I do hope that the borough will think about the good of the town.

Having said that, it is vital for Ipswich that store like Waitrose should be welcomed to the town centre.

The borough’s economic development staff should work very hard with Ipswich Central to find them the best possible location – but not by risking the future of the Corn Exchange.