DIY centre plans thrown out

COUNCILLORS have thrown out plans for a major new Focus DIY store and garden centre which would have created at least 35 jobs in a Suffolk town.Focus (DIY) Ltd had applied for the store and garden centre with space on land off Gipping Way and Bridge Street in Stowmarket.

COUNCILLORS have thrown out plans for a major new Focus DIY store and garden centre which would have created at least 35 jobs in a Suffolk town.

Focus (DIY) Ltd had applied for the store and garden centre with space on land off Gipping Way and Bridge Street in Stowmarket.

The firm wanted to build a 27,000 square foot store and 10,000 square foot garden centre with space for 113 customer cars.

Mid Suffolk District Council planning officers, concerned that the scheme could actually harm the town centre's viability, had recommended planning consent be refused.


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Mid Suffolk district councillors on the Southern Area Planning Control Committee yesterday, backed the recommendation and voted to reject the planning application.

The development had been backed by the town council, but Suffolk Wildlife Trust had called for ecological appraisal of the riverside site after objectors raised concerns that it was a natural wildlife habitat.

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Green party councillor Andrew Stringer, said: "This should go further out of town, if there are a lot of cars there will be congestion and we need good roads.

"This could also be an environmental disaster, this area deserves something a little bit better than this. It won't be anything too pretty."

Councillor Brenda McKinley, a Liberal Democrat Stowmarket councillor, said: "We have small shops and supermarkets in that area of Stowmarket. We already have well established garden centres, who have been in Stowmarket for a long time.

"This is a beautiful area, along by the river. We are short houses and small shops. Stowmarket has lost a lot of character over the years and now we could lose this to a massive building, this hodge podge in the town centre."

But Gordon Paton, a Conservative district councillor who also represents Stowmarket, argued strongly in favour of the new store.

He said: "This is a much needed facility in Stowmarket. It's a good site, away from homes. Yes, there are other sites nearer the town centre, but they are unavailable or not adequate for cars.

"We have a company here who are committed, who will provide at least 35 jobs," he added.

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