Printers saved as store gets goahead

THE future of 200 printing jobs in north Suffolk was secured last night after planners backed a new Tesco superstore in Beccles.The supermarket giant is now set to build a store on the site of long-established printing firm William Clowes, which will itself relocate to an industrial estate on the edge of town – safeguarding around 200 jobs.

By David Lennard

THE future of 200 printing jobs in north Suffolk was secured last night after planners backed a new Tesco superstore in Beccles.

The supermarket giant is now set to build a store on the site of long-established printing firm William Clowes, which will itself relocate to an industrial estate on the edge of town – safeguarding around 200 jobs.

Waveney District Council's rural area development control committee were unanimous in their support of the proposal last night.


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Martin Robeson, consultant with Tesco, said he was delighted with the decision.

"Tesco looks forward to playing a full role in the life of the local community," he said.

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If Tesco managers were celebrating it was nothing compared to the relief felt by management of William Clowes.

The company has been operating in Beccles for about 200 years and managing director Ian Foyster said if the application had been turned down it would have meant closure and the loss of 200 skilled jobs.

"This is great news for Beccles," said Mr Foyster after the planning decision was announced.

"I can now confirm that William Clowes will be staying in Beccles and moving to the outskirts of town on the Ellough industrial estate," he said.

Chris Punt, who represents Beccles on the district council, said the proposal would bring "great benefit" to the town.

"I believe the landscaping proposed around the site will enhance the area," he said.

Mr Punt also thought that with strong pedestrian links between the proposed new store on land between Newgate and Gresham Road, it would encourage more people to visit both the supermarket and the town centre shops and restaurants in Beccles.

The new Tesco store will be of a similar size to the town's Safeway Supermarket on George Westwood Way.

However, the Tesco application has seen its supermarket rivals react by proposing to extend their present stores at Beccles.

Both Safeway, and Anglia Co-op who run the town's Rainbow Supermarket, have extension plans for their stores in Beccles that will come before planners later this year.

With the new supermarket creating 200 jobs the decision taken by councillors has had a significant impact on employment opportunities in north Suffolk.

There is still some uncertainty over the future of the Beccles Printing Museum that is currently housed in the present William Clowes site.

"My number one priority has always been the future of William Clowes and its 200 employees," said Mr Foyster.

"Now that is secure we will be sitting down with the museum trustees to see if we can come to an agreement," he said.

Mr Foyster hoped the company would begin moving away from the town centre to its new location as early as next spring.

Because there is a change of use from commercial to retail for the site in the heart of Beccles the outline application will also need Government approval.

David Jermy, leader of the Labour group on the district council, said it should be noted that the application was unanimously supported and urged ministers to confirm the approval as quickly as possible.

n Committee members were also unanimous in their approval of a proposed hotel on the site of the former Saint George's School, on the outskirts of Southwold at Reydon. The site also has approval for a residential development. It will now be up to the school governors to decide what scheme to proceed with following Saint George's merger with the Saint Felix School next door.

n A plan to extend the Sole Bay Inn at Southwold and improve disabled access also received unanimous approval from members of the rural area development control committee.

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