Business centre plans under threat

PLANS to build a business centre for budding entrepreneurs could be scrapped because of the current economic climate.

Laurence Cawley

PLANS to build a business centre for budding entrepreneurs could be scrapped because of the current economic climate.

When Asda won planning permission for its new store in Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, the retail giant agreed to build the new business centre next door.

The agreement formed part of a wider deal, which included road improvements, in which Asda offered to pay for things which would benefit the community in return for being given planning permission.

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But it has now emerged Asda is trying to put the business centre scheme on ice because of the economic downturn and the retail giant fears if it builds the new centre it may well lie empty.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which awarded planning permission, is set to meet with representatives from Asda to discuss its bid and also to talk about what else Asda might be able to contribute to the area in its place.

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Nigel Aitken, the council's cabinet member responsible for the economy, confirmed Asda was seeking to ditch the business unit part of its planning application because of the current economic climate.

“They have put in a request,” he said. “They have come to us with a proposal and we will be discussing the matter with them.”

Ernie Broom, chairman of the town's Over 60s Club, which campaigned to bring Asda to Bury, said he wanted a new petrol station built there instead of a business centre.

“We are going to ask Asda for this,” he said. “What they've got planned there is a couple of buildings for start-ups but in the present climate I can't imagine anybody wanting to use them. We would like a petrol station there because that would be used by people around here.”

A spokesman for Asda confirmed it was looking to add a filling station and a planning application has now been submitted.

He said when the original application, which included the new store and the business centre, was drawn, the economic climate was far more vibrant.

“Right from the start those living in the area have always been fervent about a petrol filling station and we will be speaking with the council to get some sort of use out of the site that will provide benefit to Bury.”

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