Town on tenterhooks over whether Tesco will appeal

A computer-generated image of the Walton Green development - residents felt the debate on the projec

A computer-generated image of the Walton Green development - residents felt the debate on the project should have been held in Felixstowe. - Credit: Archant

Is the refusal of a Tesco superstore the end for Felixstowe’s Walton Green development?

I wouldn’t bet on it.

There were no cheers or celebrations as councillors made their momentous decision to reject Tesco and Asda and go with an as yet unnamed supermarket at the railway station.

There could still be a public inquiry if the Walton Green Partnership appeals, but with one 30,000sq ft store approved, it would seem unlikely an inspector would agree a second.

Planning officers are keen to see the whole 30-acre site covered with homes and most people would accept that.

n There probably won’t be a need for decades, but let’s hope next time Suffolk Coastal has a major planning decision to make about Felixstowe, it will actually make it in Felixstowe.

The Deben Suite at the Ufford Park Hotel was an excellent venue, but the number of people from Felixstowe who attended to hear the debate on the three superstore options just went to show how many more would have attended if it had been held at the Orwell Hotel, where the facilities would have been just as good.

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Suffolk Coastal – as Philip Ridley actually mentioned – has held a planning meeting at Felixstowe before. So much for the council not wanting to create a precedent.

When a meeting is lasting almost nine hours, usually people like to pop in and out throughout the day. Not possible at Ufford.

In the spirit of localism this meeting should have been held in Felixstowe so everyone could have had easy access – and that should be borne in mind in future if such big decisions come our way again.

It is also a shame more people from the town couldn’t hear the debate because it was very full, fair and interesting, with all three applications given an extensive airing and everyone given a chance to have their say.

n So will the railway station superstore actually be built – and who will the mystery retailer turn out to be?

I suppose only time will tell if Tesco’s assertion that it is too expensive to construct it will prove correct, although Tesco themselves have built “stores on stilts” with parking underneath and trolley travelators to reach the first-floor.

Likely candidates to win the bid are Aldi (the Co-op doesn’t seem to mind having them as neighbours) or Sainsbury. Most people tell me they are hoping Asda will put a bid in.

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