Ipswich: Hundreds of jobs in store as developer drops legal fight

HUNDREDS of new jobs could be created with work now expected to start on a new Tesco superstore in the next few months, after the final legal hurdle was overcome.

The legal action brought by Turnstone Estates, which is hoping to develop the former Civic Centre site near the Wolsey Theatre, against the borough council’s decision to grant Tesco permission for the Grafton Way site has been thrown out by the High Court.

Turnstone have now decided not to take the legal challenge any further – clearing the way for Tesco to start work.

A spokeswoman for Tesco said: “This is wonderful news for us and our shoppers in Ipswich as it means we’ll now be able to move forward with our plans, bringing hundreds of jobs, services and great shopping for local people.

“We hope to start work on site by early summer next year.”

She said the work would not be able to start for several months as contractors have to be formally appointed and a full schedule of work drawn up.

The company got planning permission for the development in March 2010, so by the time the work starts on the �70million project it will have been waiting two years.

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As well as a superstore the size of the Copdock Mill store, the development at Grafton Way will also include two hotels, flats and a few units for specialist shops. The main contractor for the development has not yet been signed up, but there are hopes that it could provide hundreds of local jobs while it is being built.

The Tesco spokeswoman said the company always tried to use local firms to build stores wherever possible – although they did like to work with companies they knew and had worked with before.

The planning application was approved by the former Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration at the borough in the teeth of opposition from Labour, which has now returned to power at Grafton House.

Town MP Ben Gummer said the news about Tesco was good for the town.

“This will regenerate an area which is very near the town centre,” he said. “It will create hundreds of jobs, both in the construction phase and once the project is completed.

“It also fits in with the aspiration of linking the town centre with the Waterfront. This really is good news for the town and should be a huge step forward.”

Ipswich Central objected to the original planning application, but since permission was granted the organisation has taken the view that the development will go ahead and it would be best to work with Tesco to ensure it benefited the whole town centre.

Th application was submitted by Spenhill Regeneration, the property development and regeneration arm of Tesco plc.

As well as the new Tesco, the application also included two hotels with a total of 247 bedrooms, a few small shops, and 129 flats. There would be parking for more than 700 vehicles, mainly on the roof of the superstore.

Tesco says about 660 jobs would be created at the superstore with a further 240 in other businesses in the development.