Wickham Market: Hopes grow for empty Co-op store after two years of frustration
PUBLISHED: 17:21 01 August 2014 | UPDATED: 17:21 01 August 2014
Encouraging progress has been reported on plans to revive a disused shop in the centre of an east Suffolk village following nearly two years of community discontent.
The East of England Co-operatiive said it held a “very useful” meeting with the Wickham Market Town Team over the future of its former store in the village, which had been left empty since it moved to new premises nearby in 2012.
Town Team chairman Colin Owens has also welcomed the progress made at the meeting, which he said was the first time the two sides have set out plans to work together on the issue.
“The shop has been closed since September 2012 and it’s been empty all that time, with very little movement to find a new tenant,” he said.
“It is therefore encouraging that the Co-op is now working with the Town Team to find a suitable tenant to make use of the premises and attract people back into the village centre.”
Mr Owens added that he was encouraged by the new enthusiasm and energy with which the Co-op was now marketing the vacant unit, and hoped a suitable tenant would soon be found.
Possible uses of the site suggested so far include a bike shop, a mini brewery and a day centre.
“There are all sort of options for this space, which is right in the centre of the village, with super car parking nearby,” Mr Owens said. “It’s a real opportunity for someone to get engaged in a vibrant and growing community.”
Bryan Hall, Wickham Market’s district councillor, has also welcomed the progress, having received many complaints from residents and traders about the empty store. “It’s such a key location in the village so any progress on its future would be very good news,” he said.
A spokesman for the Co-op said: “We have continued to actively market the property and would ask anyone from the local community or surrounding area to get in touch if they are interested in making use of the site. It would be good to see the former store become a useful asset for the community, whether as a retail unit or other use.”
Mr Owens added that any new entrepreneur would “get the full backing of the Town Team”.