New supermarket bid unveiled in town
FRESH moves are being made to build a major new supermarket in the centre of a north Suffolk town, the EADT can reveal.A planning application for a store in the centre of Halesworth has just been lodged by developers, featuring an underground car park.
By David Lennard
FRESH moves are being made to build a major new supermarket in the centre of a north Suffolk town, the EADT can reveal.
A planning application for a store in the centre of Halesworth has just been lodged by developers, featuring an underground car park.
It is not yet known if any major stores are on board with the project, but the news will almost certainly re-ignite a fierce debate in the town.
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Original plans for a supermarket on the site between The Thoroughfare and the Saxons Way relief road sparked controversy - with some people fearing it would damage existing businesses.
A planning inspector gave the supermarket the green light after a public inquiry in late 2001- but since then there has been no work on the site.
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Opponents had hoped new plans for smaller retail units and a community building could be submitted.
But they have been dashed after Albourne Estates submitted a new supermarket application on the site.
There are significant changes to the original plan including an underground car park for 73 vehicles and a new entrance off the Saxons Way relief road.
The new store would also be larger with a gross retail floor space of 2090.3 sq metres (22,499.8 sq ft).
Planning consultant Malcolm Alsop, who also presented the original store application, believes the new, improved supermarket would bring benefits to the Halesworth area.
In a supporting letter with the latest planning bid, he said: “There are strong justifications for the proposals, particularly when viewed in the context of the relationship between this important site and the town centre, and that they would constitute eminently sustainable development.
“The proposals would introduce the convenience of local provision, provide spin-offs for local businesses by keeping more money in the town, significantly reduce the number of car journeys and vehicular emissions associated with main food shopping trips and provide significant extra local employment.”
Despite having planning permission for a supermarket on the site for more than two years there has been no reported interest from any of the major British supermarket chains.
The new design is thought to be more attractive to supermarket bosses.
“Our client's architects and other professional advisers have been able to design a foodstore scheme for Halesworth town centre which would fit in very well with its surroundings, providing good links to other shops in the town centre, adequate car parking and manoeuvring space and landscaping.
“This will create a development of which Halesworth should be proud,” he said.
Halesworth Town Council is likely to call a special meeting to discuss the matter in the coming weeks.
“We will have to look closely at the changes to the original plan,” said Alan Holzer, vice-chairman.
“It is such an important issue that we will need to know all the details before we can make our recommendations,” he said.
Campaign group HASSL - Halesworth Against Second Supermarket Lobby - opposed the original plan and its members are likely to oppose the new store too.
“It does seem absurd that an underground car park is being planned on a flood plain,” said chairman Michael Fagg.
The owners of the site accept that during “extreme storm conditions” the car park will flood but insist it will be in a “controlled manner which can be managed”.
Waveney District Council planners are likely to discuss the latest application in the next few months.