Supermarket plans could boost jobs

THE future of more than 400 jobs in north Suffolk could be decided next week when councillors discuss a planning application for a Tesco supermarket in Beccles.

THE future of more than 400 jobs in north Suffolk could be decided next week when councillors discuss a planning application for a Tesco supermarket in Beccles.

If the application wins approval it will enable printers William Clowes to move to a new 100,000 sq ft factory at Ellough near Beccles.

The plans for the new store are being submitted jointly by Tesco and William Clowes Ltd.

Tesco wants to build a 46,640 sq ft store that will create 200 new jobs at Newgate in the centre of Beccles currently occupied by the printing company.

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Ian Foyster, managing director of William Clowes said if planning consent is granted for the new store it will allow Clowes to invest £1.75million in a new web printing press and invest in the long-term future of the company and its 200 staff.

Although the Ellough site is the favoured location for Clowes the company is retaining an interest in the former Zephyr Cams site south of Lowestoft as its second choice.

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Mr Foyster said it was ironic that the business would qualify for a big grant by moving to Lowestoft but the site would require more work before the transfer could take place.

If Tesco gets the go-ahead work on a move to Ellough could start next spring and be completed by January 2005.

Members of Waveney district council's rural area development control committee are being recommended to approve plans for the new Tesco store when they meet next week.

Beccles Town Council is supporting the application although there are concerns for the future of the Museum of Print currently housed on the site.

Trustees of the museum, however, do not want to delay the planning process.

"While the museum is extremely important to us we must avoid it delaying the planning process for the Clowes site sale and the subsequent relocation and investment," said the trustees in a statement to planners.

Suffolk Preservation Society is also concerned that another large supermarket in Beccles will lead to the closure of its small independent shops.

A statement from the society said that many stores are struggling to compete with the existing supermarkets in the town.

"Many local businesses, which have barely survived against the competition as a result of the presence of the Safeway store will be forced to close by the cut-throat competition as the supermarket giants slug it out.

"The net effect is that Beccles will be filled with deserted unmarketable shops and the town will become something of a ghost town. The small market town will be no more," said the preservation society statement.

Since the Tesco application was first made public both Safeway and the Anglia Co-operative Rainbow store have announced proposals to increase the size of its supermarkets in Beccles.

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