HUNDREDS of local people are in line to get jobs building a new business and retail park in Ipswich that will include the new Waitrose and John Lewis At Home stores.

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The park, on the site of the former Crane engineering works between Nacton Road and the Felixstowe rail line will be called Futura Park.

Developed by Aquigen, the Waitrose/John Lewis store is just one element of the park – taking up about a quarter of the site. The rest will be business units, offices, and another retail warehouse selling bulky goods.

A spokesman for Aquigen said the total number of people working on the site would total more than 300 – although not everyone would be working there at once.

He said: “We have to start with remediation work – cleaning the ground – and then lay services and build roads before any construction of the units can begin.”

He expected it to take three or four months to get all the contracts in place to allow work to start on the ground: “We aim to use local work people wherever possible – that is an integral part of our planning,” he said. The developers could not give a timescale for the completion of the Waitrose/John Lewis store.

Waitrose director Nigel Keen has said he hopes it will be open in time for next Christmas, but other officials from the company fear that could be over-ambitious.

Central to the new retail/business park is a piece of public art on a new roundabout in the centre of the park. Aquigen plans to invite art students from colleges in Suffolk to design an iconic image for this sculpture and plan to announce details of the competition over the next few weeks.

The spokesman said: “We are hoping that someone will come up with a design that can be landmark for the whole area. We want it to really stand out.”

When permission was granted for the new park in December, Aquigen director Tony Chambers said up to 1,500 jobs could be created at the park – 300 at Waitrose/John Lewis At Home and a further 1,200 at other businesses.

The park would be developed in several phases over a few years – and was a major regeneration project.

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