Aldeburgh: Tesco questioned on High Street store bid

COMMUNITY leaders have heard first hand about a controversial bid to open a supermarket in their seaside resort.

Representatives from retail giant Tesco were at a meeting of Aldeburgh Town Council, during which members were told about plans to open an Express store on the site of the derelict Crossways Garage in Saxmundham Road.

They heard the shop would employ around 20 staff, seven full time and 13 part time, and measure 280sq m – slightly larger than the Co-op on the High Street.

The scheme, put forward by Bury St Edmunds-based Pigeon, would also include five flats and 17 parking spaces – five for residents of the development and 12 for shoppers.

William Stanton, director of Pigeon, said: “We realise the unique quality of the High Street needs to be protected and respect that residents don’t want it to be another ‘clone’ town. I believe this is an excellent development in keeping with the values of the town and – if it goes ahead – a piece of good news for the economy of Suffolk.”

Questions centred on the need for full-scale drawings, concerns over food miles and the desire to see products from local suppliers.

Others raised fears over the size of delivery lorries, how Tesco justified the need for a store in the town and concerns over staff car parking. There was also concern that the flats would become holiday homes rather than affordable properties for local people.

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Tesco’s Louise Gosling said Express stores were the smallest in the retailer’s portfolio and it would be selling “pre packed” groceries, with no fresh meat or deli counter. She said there had been support for the store, adding: “It’s against our interests to allow places to deteriorate. What we want to do is be part of a thriving community, where people want to go. The store is positioned away from the High Street – it is not competing with the High Street.”

Earlier Naomi Tarry, chairman of Aldeburgh Business Association, told the meeting: “People live, work and visit Aldeburgh because of its uniqueness. It has a wonderful, vibrant business community. The presence of Tesco would very quickly damage this and we believe it will be the start of an erosion of our special seaside town. If we lose the independent stores it will be virtually impossible to bring them back.”

Her comments were echoed by Michael Toppin, heading up a campaign against Tesco in the town, and local resident Jane Hall.

Members of the public can have their say at a meeting in the Jubilee Hall at 7pm tonight. The event has been organised by the town council.