Is Ravenswood's Lidl preparing to move to Futura Park in Ipswich?
PUBLISHED: 19:00 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:59 23 January 2020
One of the two Lidl stores in Ipswich could be preparing to move to a new site on the other side of the road to expand and attract more shoppers.
The company has applied for - and obtained - a drinks licence for a new store on Plot 1, Crane Boulevard at the Nacton Road entrance to Futura Park which is already home to Waitrose and John Lewis.
That site is only about 100 metres from its existing store on the Ravenswood development - but access for vehicles is much easier and there would be more parking and space for a much larger store.
No planning application has yet been made to Ipswich council for the site, and there have been no pre-application talks with planning officers. But the borough's licencing department has received - and granted - the drinks licence, the authority's licensing committee will be told next week.
The indications are that if Lidl do make a planning application for the Futura Park site, the borough will insist on better pedestrian and cycle crossing arrangements across Nacton Road to ensure Ravenswood residents can continue to visit it easily on foot.
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There is an existing pelican crossing - but at the very least that would have to be upgraded if a full planning application was to succeed.
Local borough councillor Sarah Barber said she thought many people would welcome the move: "If the shop is larger and there is better access for people living outside Ravenswood then that would be good - a new tenant could be found for their current store and there will still be a Co-op among the Ravenswood shops.
"And by investing in a new store, Lidl would be giving a real vote of confidence in this part of the town."
Lidl has been asked for a comment about a possible move for its Ravenswood store, but has not yet responded to our query.
However budget retailers like Lidl and their arch-competitor Aldi often do well when located near a more up-market store - customers will use them for many of their groceries but like to go to Waitrose or Marks and Spencer for a few special treats.
Although the current Lidl is not far from Waitrose as the crow flies, it is in a very difficult location for drivers to negotiate - especially at busy times of the day.