Aldeburgh: Tesco store bid continues to cause debate

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to open a supermarket in a popular seaside town are continuing to cause much debate.

Retail giant Tesco claims that more than 200 people have signed up in support of its plans for an Express store on the derelict Crossways Garage site in Saxmundham Road, Aldeburgh.

But the scheme, which would also include five flats, 17 parking spaces and create 20 jobs - seven full time and 13 part time, has met with fierce opposition.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition in support of Aldeburgh’s independent stores and traders fear Tesco’s presence could destroy the town’s unique character.

Will Stanton, director of developers Pigeon, which owns the Crossways site and is leading the scheme, said while it is clear there is opposition in the town there is also a significant body of support.

“We had 213 signed and addressed responses, with a number of anonymous respondents as well, and we are expecting more to arrive through the post over the next few days,” he said. “It’s clear that a lot of people will welcome a greater choice in shopping in Aldeburgh.”

Mr Stanton said many of the positive comments were from people who were not able to drive further afield to get their shopping - including disabled residents and mothers with young families.

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“We received some extremely valuable feedback and have been canvassing all shades of opinion,” he added. “We are very glad to have involved the public from an early stage.”

Those in opposition fear a Tesco Express would be a direct threat to local retailers - destroying the town’s unique charm and possibly putting off tourists in the future.

Naomi Tarry, chairman of Aldeburgh Business Association, said they were delighted to have received more than 1,000 signatures in support of the town’s independent retailers - with over half of those living in the resort.

“There is a very strong swell of opinion that Tesco would be negative for Aldeburgh,” she said. “We have been inundated by local people offering their help to campaign against the proposal.

“We believe that Tesco would impact on many aspects of Aldeburgh’s community, not just the viability of our independent High Street shops. For example, independent businesses make considerable financial contributions to community events and special projects in the town.”