Tesco set for market town

RETAIL giant Tesco looks set to move into the heart of a Suffolk market town, it has emerged.

The East Anglian Daily Times understands the supermarket has agreed to open a store in Saxmundham.

It follows a decision by Suffolk Coastal District Council to allow the redevelopment of a derelict site in Church Street, opposite the current Wiatrose supermarket.

It will see the construction of four retail units and 146 car parking spaces - a move that has been warmly welcomed by the local community.

One of the “big four” supermarkets was understood to have agreed a move into the largest unit - which will have a sales area of 1,420 sq m - and last night the clerk to the town council confirmed it was Tesco.

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The store is expected to generate 165 full and part time jobs and according to their website is large enough to fall into the retail giant’s criteria for selling both food and non-food products.

In 1997 opponents successfully fought plans for a Tesco store to be built on the outskirts of Saxmundham on land close to the A12.

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But this time around - due to its central location - the community has responded with open arms.

District councillor Marian Andrews said: “My general feeling is that it is going to be a good thing because it will keep people shopping in the town. I think we have to adapt and try and move on. People I have spoken to are very positive about it.”

Bob Foyers, who runs the Bistro at the Deli and is chairman of Businesses of Saxmundham (BOS), said he hoped a new town centre store would encourage even more people on to the High Street but urged Tesco to get actively involved with the community.

“Waitrose has brought a lot of trade into the town and if we now have the other demographic we have got it all,” he added. “However I would like Tesco to get involved with the local community and join our group. It is so very important they are part of Saxmundham, that they support and encourage the town and that they work with us so we know what is going on.”

Robin Potter, director of the Saxmundham and District Community Interest Company, said: “The fundamental thing is that it will move the town forward, bring people in, make use of a derelict site and provide much needed car parking.”

Lady Caroline Cranbrook, of nearby Little Glemham, was a leading figure in the 1997 campaign against Tesco and has won national plaudits for her work looking at how supermarkets effect the local economy.

She said: “I hope it works out but I still have some serious concerns about how it will effect the long term future of the wider economy and the vitality of the High Street.

“Apart from that I think the issue of traffic is a real concern. I don’t know how they will manage that.”

A spokesman for Tesco was unavailable for comment last night.

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