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Former Homebase at Warren Heath set to become first B&M garden centre in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 05:30 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:24 23 July 2019

The old Homebase site at Warren Heath is to be changed into a new B&M store. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

The old Homebase site at Warren Heath is to be changed into a new B&M store. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

RACHEL EDGE

The former Homebase store at Warren Heath on the edge of Ipswich is set to become a new B&M - almost certainly replacing the company's existing store on the Ransomes Euro Retail Park.

The current B&M store in Ransomes Euro Retail Park is the company's smallest in Ipswich: ARCHANTThe current B&M store in Ransomes Euro Retail Park is the company's smallest in Ipswich: ARCHANT

Notices have been put up saying that the company is starting an 11-week programme of fitting out the store for B&M this week. It is also applying to East Suffolk Council for a drinks licence for the former Homebase store. B&M sells a limited range of discount wines and beers.

A spokeswoman for B&M said: "We sometimes apply for necessary licences or planning permissions - or start recruitment - before the lease is signed so we are in a position to move as soon as we are able to go."

But although the property department could not give confirmation of the development to her, she accepted the notice did suggest that the work was about to start.

A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said there would be no need for B&M to apply for planning permission for the store because it was already in retail use.

The notice at the former Homebase store outlining B&M's refurbishment plans. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGEThe notice at the former Homebase store outlining B&M's refurbishment plans. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

B&M has been one of the retail success stories of recent years and the Ransomes Euro Retail Park store was one of the first it opened in the town - along with its store at Copdock Mill.

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It had a planning battle with Ipswich Borough Council over the amount of "non-bulky" items it sold at Ransomes - which was resolved when it agreed to open a town centre store in Carr Street.

Within the last two years it has also opened a store on the Anglia Retail Park, off Bury Road.

The store at Ransomes Euro Retail Park is now one of its smallest in the town - and it is known that the company is keen to open a garden centre in the town. It already has garden centres at its stores in Harwich and Clacton.

Moving to the other side of Felixstowe Road would solve that problem - Homebase had a substantial garden centre as part of its store which closed earlier this year.

If B&M does move out of the unit at Ransomes Euro Retail Park, the unit is unlikely to be empty for long.

The unit next to it is being turned into a Food Warehouse - part of the Iceland stores group - and it is possible that they could seek to expand the size of the unit into the B&M store to give it more floorspace.

The move will also confirm that area of the town as a major shopping area with three retail parks next to each other: Ransomes Euro Retail Park, Warren Heath, and Futura Park, home to Waitrose and John Lewis.

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