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Thurston: Village campaigners take on Sainsbury’s in shop war

15:28 27 March 2014

Sainsburys have lost in a bid to build a store in Thurston

Sainsburys have lost in a bid to build a store in Thurston

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Campaigners were celebrating last night after a bid by Sainsbury’s to build a store in a west Suffolk village was rejected by councillors who argued local businesses would be “ruined” if it went ahead.

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Mid Suffolk District councillors sent out a strong message by unanimously voting against the proposal for Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, yesterday.

Derrick Haley, leader of Mid Suffolk and a councillor for Thurston, argued it was a “fact” that the Sainsbury’s store would have had a detrimental impact on existing village businesses.

Stephen Wright, councillor for Barking and Somersham, said he could not support the shop as it would “ruin” small businesses like the village’s post office and garage.

Rebecca Palmer, from planning firm Turley, represented Sainsbury’s at the meeting. She said: “We are not seeking to compete with other shops in the local area. It is a small scale proposal and a small site which will be more sustainable as people would not have to travel very far.”

She said the shop, which was earmarked to be built off Station Hill as part of a new development at a former granary, would provide up to 20 jobs.

Resident, Tracey Hall-Roberts, claimed the store “would kill the village”. She said: “Sainsbury’s will not compete it will displace. It’s happened in so many other places - that’s why the Tesco application was turned down in Hadleigh.”

She said local businesses tried to source produce from the surrounding areas. She claimed those businesses were “part of the community” and without them the village would “fail”.

Mr Haley said: “This must have an impact - I do not believe that a retail site selling similar products to the garage and the post office would not have an impact. I cannot understand anyone saying it would not - you do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand that.

Thurston Parish Council said the development would impact negatively on the vitality and viability of the village economy.

But Diana Kearsley, councillor for Gislingham, said that business competition could be positive. She said: “I’m not totally in agreement that additional retail will ruin the existing in the village. I always say competition is not a bad thing. It can have a definite impact, certainly, but it could bring in more people into Thurston.”

Sainsbury’s said the store would be “beneficial” to the area and bring “additional choice”.

A spokeswoman for the national chain said it would be considering its options.

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