Lavenham: Plans for second village Co-op food store raise concerns about traffic


Lavenham - Credit: Archant

Plans to modify a Grade II Listed shop in the centre of a heritage village so it can be used as a supermarket are due to be discussed today.

The East of England Co-operative has applied for planning and listed building consent to make alterations to the former Hogg @ Home shop, in High Street, Lavenham.

But Lavenham parish council has written to Babergh District Council urging planning officers to defer the application. This is to give Suffolk County Council’s highways department a chance to address major concerns in the community about traffic issues associated with the site.

The East of England Co-op has bought the building and has the necessary permission to open a foodstore. The current application is simply for alterations and refurbishments to the shop building, which has been empty since February when the china and homeware business closed down.

However, parish council chairman Roy Whitworth believes the location is not suitable for a high volume, low margin business.

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Last night, he told the EADT: “The Co-op owns the building and there’s nothing stopping them from opening a supermarket there, but with a bus stop right next to it, the Swan (Hotel) opposite and a butcher’s shop next door it’s difficult to see how a supermarket can operate from that site and be viable.

“The parish council is most worried about the damage it could do to existing shops and the associated increase in traffic. We hope the committee will take notice of our view which is that the traffic situation needs looking at. Whether the Co-op eventually has a rethink based on that remains to be seen.”

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There is already a Co-operative Group-owned supermarket in Lavenham and some local people believe a second food store is not needed.

Lavenham resident Dr Charles Posner said: “People are concerned about deliveries and the extra parking that will be needed because there’s nowhere near to park now.

“There is also a concern that the new store might try to undercut the existing Co-op in terms of prices which could eventually put it at risk, and a lot of the staff there are local people.

“What people don’t realise is that there are many older people in the village who are not very well off and they rely on the Co-op. If the new one is cheaper, they will shop there instead.”

The current Co-operative Group food store has been in Lavenham for more than 10 years. A spokesperson for the group said: “The store has a loyal customer base, and many of our customers are also Co-operative members.

“The Co-operative Group has food stores in the same towns and villages as outlets run by independent co-operative societies at a number of locations across the UK.”

Meanwhile, Nick Denny, executive officer for the East of England Co-operative told the EADT they had met with current Lavenham retailers to ensure that the new store would complement what is already being offered in the village. He said: “There will be an extensive range of local produce, sourced from suppliers in and around Lavenham.

“We very much look forward to becoming a part of the local community in the very near future and supporting this vibrant high street.”

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