Ixworth: Campaigners warn supermarket could damage independent traders

Row brewing in historic Ixworth

Row brewing in historic Ixworth

The opening of a supermarket in a west Suffolk village could lead to the closure of shops and pubs, campaigners have warned.

Plans submitted to St Edmundsbury Borough Council could see the showroom of Fordhams Garage on Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds, converted into an Anglia Co-operative Foodstore.

The company have said their application recognises the need for “a small convenience-type store” in the village and would create up to 35 jobs.

But Ben Lord, who is fronting the Save Our Shops campaign in partnership with some of the village businesses, said the 3,000 sq ft High Street store would be three-times bigger than the existing shop, would damage independent traders and threaten jobs.

He added: “Quite simply, if this Co-op supermarket is alowed to happen it will result in the loss of our butchers, the loss of our general store, will withdraw many services from our post office. Because the proposed store will be three times bigger than the existing village shop it will have increased stock holdong of alcohl meaning that the two pubs in the village will also be under threat.”

Mr Lord, who is on Ixworth Parish Council but was speaking as a parishioner and not as a councillor, said more than 500 people had signed a petition against the supermarket within 24 hours of it being placed in Ixworth Stores and on the village’s Facebook site.

A letter submitted to planners from the owner of Fordhams Garage said if the showroom was not sold or re-used the “ability to to successfully sustain the garage in its present form will be severely compromised.”

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A spokesman for Anglia Co-operative said: “Our application is recognising the need for a small convenience-type store in Ixworth. Planners believe it will contribute significantly to the vitality of the community by providing a store that will be accessible to Ixworth residents.

“There are no better locations within the village to locate a convenience store and, by applying for change of use of the existing showroom at Fordhams Garage to a convenience store, in addition to providing a shopping resource for the residents, we will be contributing towards safeguarding the future of the business and securing the 12 jobs at the garage.

“In addition the proposed store will create additional employment in the shape of 30 to 35 full and part-time positions.

“As a regional co-operative society Anglia Co-operative has a proven track record of complementing existing shopping facilities available in the communities we serve - not rivalling them. We have worked successfully alongside existing businesses across our trading area.

“In addition, we bring a unique level of local community support wherever we trade. Our stores raised almost £50,000 for local causes in one year and we would hope to bring this level of support to Ixworth should we be granted planning permission.”

Consultation continues until June 20.