August 1 2014 Latest news:
Friday, April 4, 2014
Stalled progress over a controversial housing development in east Suffolk has led to rumours that a supermarket may be taking its place.
Residents in Framlingham have been speculating that a number of major retailers are interested in the site off Station Road where Hopkins Homes has permission to build 140 homes.
Suffolk Coastal District Council has refused the developer’s requests to remove an obligation for 47 affordable houses to be built as part of the scheme.
A company spokesman has since confirmed the possible sale of the site, prompting widespread debate over the possible buyer.
Christopher Hudson, a district councillor in the town, said Lidl, Tesco and Waitrose had all been suggested, while others had made calls for a mixed development of shops and housing to revive the site.
“The only thing we can’t do is leave it as it is,” he said.
“It’s an eyesore and people are pig-sick of it.
“Let’s get something in there, something that’s good for the town.”
Mr Hudson also raised possibilities of the council “taking the site back” if the developer failed to progress its own plans.
Hopkins Homes said it was “extremely disappointed” at the council’s decision and was now “considering all options - including the possible sale of the site”.
“We shall therefore pursue enquiries from all interested parties, however we are not in discussion with Tesco’s at this present time,” a spokesman added.
Tesco also denies having any plans for the site. Business leaders in the town, however, fear a supermarket of some form is highly likely if housing does not proceed.
Jenny Stockman, chairman of the Framlingham Business Association, said the land is too expensive for other schemes.
“It’s almost inevitably going to be housing or a supermarket and whichever option is taken we have to make it work for the town,” she said.
Ms Stockman felt most businesses in the town would oppose a supermarket, although she would be keen to investigate the impact
before rejecting it outright.
She conceded there may be some benefits from additional car parking and developer contributions but was concerned that the site was too far from the town centre to draw footfall where it was needed.
In Saxmundham, where Tesco opened in 2012, businesses have reported fewer high street visitors.
Ken Howe, chairman of Businesses of Saxmundham said: “I think it’s fair to say that Tesco has not done the high street any favours.”
A recent residents’ survey in Framlingham also revealed little appetite for any large out of town superstore.
David Greenacre, of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, which produced the survey, said: “People say they want small independent shops, not large supermarkets.”