Major new store set for Stowmarket

DEVELOPERS have been given the go-ahead for a project that will bring a £9million boost to a market town, including a new Marks & Spencer food store.The major scheme, at the former Seamans builders' yard in Stowmarket, will create more than 110 jobs.

By John Howard

DEVELOPERS have been given the go-ahead for a project that will bring a £9million boost to a market town, including a new Marks & Spencer food store.

The major scheme, at the former Seamans builders' yard in Stowmarket, will create more than 110 jobs.

Mid Suffolk councillors yesterday unanimously voted to grant planning permission for the new retail development, which also includes part of the neighbouring car park in Stowmarket town centre.


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It is understood that the development will be taken up in part by an M&S Simply Food store, creating up to 35 full-time jobs and 17 part-time positions, and there will be a further 40 full-time and 20 part-time jobs with two other, as yet unspecified, retailers.

The plans had sparked strong feelings in the community with objectors complaining about the design and size of the building and the loss of 30 car parking spaces.

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But a spokesman for the development said £6.5m was being spent on the building, with a further £2m to fit out the retail centres, £600,000 to reconfigure the car park and £75,000 to be spent on local improvements, including a new bus shelter and a zebra crossing.

He said: “This is a major injection of investment in Stowmarket. We feel it is a high quality building and it creates a brand new car park, making a major input into the regeneration of the high street. This is an expression of faith in Stowmarket and a wonderful opportunity for the town.”

Andrew Stringer, a Green district councillor who recommended colleagues approve the store, said: “We desperately need new development in Stowmarket. This is a main shopping area - we really must not miss this opportunity on the site.”

Frank Shephard, a Conservative district councillor, said: “This development brings the other end of our main street to life, it is very, very important.”

Tim Passmore, Conservative leader of the district council, said after the meeting: “We are delighted Marks & Spencer want to move to Stowmarket and hope this is a catalyst for other quality retailers.

“This is a very important first step, but only a first step. We want restaurants, wine bars, and leisure activities.

“This is a golden opportunity to deliver what people want rather than must sitting about talking about things. We have been in touch with other traders and we also want small shops, speciality shops, not just the large chains.

“Norwich, even though it is a bigger city, has a lot of independent shops, with major retailers too and there is plenty of evidence that the two can co-exist comfortably. I think within 10 years Stowmarket's population will go up from 15,000 now to 19,000. We do not want it to be a dormitory town.”

Councillors, meeting at their Needham Market chambers, voted in favour of the development subject to conditions including improving the appearance of the development by using wooden barn-style cladding, noise mitigation measures for neighbours and measures to protect the local environment.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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