Is Tesco preparing its new store in Ipswich's Tavern Street?

Croydons in Tavern Street

Construction workers appear to have moved into the former Jack Wills building in Tavern Street - Credit: Matthew Earth

Is work to turn the former Croydon's jewellers and Jack Wills store in Ipswich's Tavern Street into a new Tesco Metro finally under way?

Jack Wills never reopened after the first lockdown last year — and Tesco has had an interest in the former jewellers for many years, even before its most recent spell as a fashion store.

In July it was revealed that Tesco had applied for an off-licence for the store and also sought planning permission for air conditioning and extraction units.

It did not need planning permission for use as a store because that is already the building's established use.

This week workers have been seen putting up temporary fencing around the store prompting speculation that work could be underway to finally get it reopened.

However, Tesco was not able to say whether this work is in any way connected with their plans for the building. It would require considerable internal work to become a supermarket because of the large staircase that dominates it.

The store is one of the most prominent in Ipswich town centre — but it is not as old as many people believe.

It was created in 1929 when Tavern Street was widened. It was part of the "Mockbethan" development in the town centre with new buildings made to look like a Tudor streetscape.

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The store was run by several generations of the Croydon family until the company called in administrators in 1994 and was sold to Preston and Duckworth who later moved to premises in the Butter Market Street.

From the late 1990s until 2010 the building was home to Blacks outdoor shop and was empty for several years until Jack Wills took it on in 2017.

It is seen as one of the most significant shops in the centre of Ipswich — and Tesco first proposed moving in during 2013 although their interest later faded.

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