Ipswich: Tesco pulls out of Grafton Way proposal

Aborted proposal: An architect's impression of the Tesco store in Grafton Way which will now never b

Aborted proposal: An architect's impression of the Tesco store in Grafton Way which will now never be built. - Credit: Contributed

Supermarket giant Tesco has scrapped proposals to build a new store.

But the retailer remains determined to push ahead with a planning application for the site in Grafton Way, Ipswich, in the hope of selling it on to another supermarket group or developer.

Tesco said it had concluded it already had enough large stores in the Ipswich area.

The conversion of the Emperor pub in Norwich Road into a new convenience store will go ahead however.

The decision to pull out of Grafton Way project has prompted town centre management group Ipswich Central to call on the borough to reject the planning application for the site, which is due to be discussed by its planning and development committee on May 29.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “Following a recent review, we have concluded that we do not need another Extra store in central Ipswich.

“However, because of the importance of the Grafton Way site to the community and its suitability for a mixed-use development, we have decided to proceed with our current planning application which, if approved, we will then look to sell to a developer or another retailer.”

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But Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, felt it would be better if a speculative planning application for the Grafton Way site was rejected.

He said: “I recently called for Tesco to end the lingering uncertainty by either immediately building a smaller store or abandoning their plans for the site. I am pleased that this has, at least, now led to clarity over their intentions for the site.

“My instinctive reaction is that we would not be in favour of a new, speculative, consent being granted on this site.

“The town centre must first prioritise its development and redevelopment sites, and then commit to delivering them in that priority order, one by one.”

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said he felt the announcement would make the committee less likely to approve the planning application.

He said: “This is not a welcome development – we need some certainty about what is going to happen in the town and this will not help that.

“I cannot say what the committee will decide, but this is now a proposal without a developer in place and that must make it less likely to be approved.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said he was sorry that Tesco had pulled out but felt it was vital that such an important site should not remain derelict indefinitely.

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