Council says no to Tesco expansion

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco's hopes of building a £1million development to one of its out-of-town stores - creating more than 50 new jobs - have been snubbed amid fears it will hit smaller independent shops.

John Howard

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco's hopes of building a £1million development to one of its out-of-town stores - creating more than 50 new jobs - have been snubbed amid fears it will hit smaller independent shops.

The huge retailer had hoped to extend its operation on the large Cedars Park estate on the outskirts of Stowmarket, where it wanted to offer a wider range in areas including books, clothing, some small electrical products and new food ranges.

It would have employed extra staff and estimated an extra £600,000 investment in staff wages, which could then have been spent within the local economy.

The move has proved hugely popular with residents on the estate, with almost 500 people backing the plans for the superstore, which is the only business on Cedars Park which will have 2,000 homes when finished.

But the Stowmarket Society and the town council opposed the plans, fearing smaller shops in the town centre would suffer and people could stop shopping locally in their town centre.

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Mid Suffolk district councillors, meeting at their Needham Market chambers yesterday, voted by six to three to refuse the plans.

Frank Whittle, a district councillor who represents Stowmarket, told the meeting: “The extension is vital and will provide much needed extra jobs and may help stop some repossessions on Cedars Park.

“I cannot see this will be of any detriment to the shops in Stowmarket.”

But Ray Melvin, an Independent councillor, said small traders were vulnerable in the community and they should not be forgotten

Tony Fowler, a Liberal Democrat councillor, said: “Tesco is an aggressive and progressive company. “Customers are going to Tesco en masse and no-one is being forced to. The need is there and this is the wish of the people.”

Justin Mills, an agent acting for Tesco, told councillors: “We want to improve the layout, offer better facilities, increase the range of food and ancillary items.

“There will be £600,000 in additional wages for the local economy. Stowmarket has a vital and viable town centre - yes, the proposals will draw some trade from the town centre, but will not detrimentally harm it.”

Speaking after the decision, Fred Hillyer, a Cedars Park Residents Association member, said: “This is something that was really needed.

“This would not destroy Stowmarket. People will now just go and shop in Bury St Edmunds and elsewhere.”

Nick Gellatley, Tesco's corporate affairs manager, said: “Naturally Tesco are very disappointed with this decision.

“We have received a huge amount of support from the local community in Stowmarket.”

Tesco bosses will now plan their next move, which could include an appeal.

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