Co-op Travel secures new Beccles store after Beales closure
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A new Co-op Travel store could be about to fill an empty betting shop in Beccles town centre after proposals were approved by planners.
The Central England Co-operative lodged plans at the start of the year to fill the former Coral bookmakers unit in New Market – a Grade II listed vacant shop unit.
The Co-op applied for a change of use to East Suffolk Council, which last week was approved.
MORE: Beales store closures in Suffolk and NorfolkIts travel store had previously been housed in Beales before the department store’s closure, meaning the application could effectively safeguard the future of a Co-op travel store in the town should the firm continue to go ahead with it.
A spokesman said: “As a society, we are always looking for exciting opportunities to open new travel stores for the benefit of our members and customers.
“As part of this work we have to begin planning for potential sites months, sometimes years, before a decision to proceed or not to proceed even takes place.
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“This process has been accelerated in Beccles following the closure of the Beales department store, which housed our travel store in the area.
“However, we do promise with any potential new travel store that our loyal members and customers will be first to know when we have any updates to share.”
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While permission has been approved, and only internal alterations needed, the coronavirus pandemic has raised questions over when and if plans will go ahead.
The travel industry has been among the hardest hit internationally, and a decision to proceed may be dependent on the landscape of the industry and the Co-op’s finances once lockdown measures in the UK have eased.
A spokesman said that Central England Co-operative members would be informed first of ay future plans regarding the site.
Beales went into administration in January, which prompted an announcement of the closure of its 23 outlets over February and March - effectively forcing the Co-op to find an alternative.
The other Co-op travel agents in Suffolk are run by the East of England Co-op.
The unit in New Market had been run as a betting shop for around 11 years.
The plans, lodged in February, did not receive any objections, with planning permission approved on Wednesday, April 8.