Lavenham: Work can go-ahead on second Co-op food store in village


Lavenham - Credit: Archant

Plans to modify a Grade II Listed shop in the centre of a Suffolk village so it can be used as a supermarket have been given the go ahead.

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

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

Lavenham parish council wrote to Babergh District Council urging planning officers to defer the application. This was to give Suffolk County Council’s highways department a chance to address major concerns in the community about traffic issues associated with the site. But at a meeting yesterday, Babergh’s planning committee approved the alterations.

Parish council chairman Roy Whitworth believes the location is not suitable for a high volume, low margin business. 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 hoped the committee would 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.”

There is already a Co-operative Group food store in Lavenham and some local people believe a second supermarket is not needed. Resident Dr Charles Posner said: “There is a concern that the new store might try to undercut the existing Co-op which could eventually put it at risk, and a lot of the staff there are local people.

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“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 said: “The store has a loyal customer base, and many of our customers are also Co-operative members.

“We have 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 said they had met with Lavenham retailers to ensure that the new store would complement what is already offered in the village. He said: “We very much look forward to becoming a part of the local community in the very near future.”