Aldeburgh: Town debates Tesco bid for High Street

A COMMUNITY turned out to have its say on plans to open a supermarket in a seaside resort.

Most of those at Aldeburgh’s Jubilee Hall were against Tesco’s bid to open an Express store in the town’s Saxmundham Road. But a small number supported proposals to redevelop the Crossways Garage site, put forward by Bury St Edmunds developers Pigeon.

The store would be next door to the Co-op and include five flats and 17 parking spaces. It would employ around 20 people – seven full time and 13 part time – and measure 280sq m, slightly larger than the other Co-op on the High Street.

People said they feared the impact a Tesco could have on shops in the High Street. It was also felt national chains did little to contribute to the community.

There were concerns the scheme was an over development of the site, that it would lead to increased traffic, that there was inadequate parking space – especially for staff – and that large delivery lorries could cause chaos. Others felt that if the store was allowed to serve alcohol late it could lead to a rise in anti-social behaviour – however, it was also pointed out that there were other stores where alcohol could be bought in the town.

Alex Tarry, of the Aldeburgh Business Association, said while Tesco could argue that people shop elsewhere to get better choice, it was inevitable that independent stores would suffer.

Elizabeth Martinez, resident for 30 years, said she was not against Tesco as a company and shopped at stores in Saxmundham and Martlesham but was opposed to the over development of the site.

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Patrick Nicholls, of Park Lane, said he feared Aldeburgh could “lose its heart” if Tesco was allowed to open. However, Sandra Tyler, who lives near the golf course, said: “I go into town for the post office, bank, chemist and occasionally the paper shop. Why don’t I go for the rest of the shop? There’s nothing there that interests me. Having a Tesco will give people on a low salary with children the opportunity to purchase things at a reasonable price.”

Her comments were echoed by Paul Nichols, of Fairfield Road, who said: “The Co-op already has lorries coming down, business owners in the High Street have deliveries. That’s OK. Why should it be different with Tesco? I, as a local, don’t go to the High Street because there’s nothing for me.

Tesco declined to attend Wednesday night’s meeting but, in a statement read by town clerk Ruth Proctor, said they were always keen to consult residents and felt the most effective way was through public exhibitions. A statement was also read from the Co-op saying they had been, and still were, interested in using the site to extend their existing store.