Residents back superstore extension

RESIDENTS of a housing estate have backed a superstore's £1m expansion plans - despite the fears of local businesses.

John Howard

RESIDENTS of a housing estate have backed a superstore's £1m expansion plans - despite the fears of local businesses.

Mid Suffolk District Council is considering whether to grant planning permission for Tesco to develop its operation on the large new Cedars Park estate on the edge of Stowmarket, near the A14.

More than £1m would be invested into the store creating more than 50 jobs, but the move is dividing residents.

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Tesco hopes to build an extension, a new mezzanine floor with a coffee shop and toilets, as well as developing existing areas to increase the gross overall size of the store from 4,049 square metres to 5,562.

Some residents are fearful of the impact on the smaller independent retailers, as a number of long established businesses have shut their local shops. Traders are also worried, and the Stowmarket Society has objected.

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But other local say the current superstore is simply not big enough to meet shoppers' needs and the large Cedars Park Residents' Association has supported the move.

A spokesman said: “We believe that Tesco is a key local facility. We do not support any retailer over any other, and we support the regeneration of Stowmarket.

“However, we strongly believe that Cedars Park needs retail services which are local, minimise additional car journeys, and provide choice and flexibility in serving the needs of residents here.”

Frank Whittle, a Stowmarket district councillor who represents the area and until recently the community's mayor, said: “I think the town should have Tesco, there should be no argument.

“This will not damage Stowmarket shops. It's on Cedars Park, they need it, and I see no reason why they should not have it.

“There are about 1,200 homes up there and when the estate is finished there will be more than 2,000 houses there. You can't tell people where they should shop these days.”

Tesco said that customers often tell staff that the current store is cramped and crowded and that can force them to travel out to Ipswich or Bury St Edmunds for their shopping.

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk District Council said the application is expected to go before a planning committee at the beginning of next month.

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