Town in line for 350 jobs boost
By Benedict O'ConnorA TOWN is set for a major jobs boost after one of the country's biggest supermarket chains unveiled a plan to open a store there.
By Benedict O'Connor
A TOWN is set for a major jobs boost after one of the country's biggest supermarket chains unveiled a plan to open a store there.
Asda, the UK's second largest supermarket group, is planning to open a store in Bury St Edmunds, creating about 350 jobs.
A planning application to build a 37,000sq ft store on the site of the old Co-Op on the town's Western Way is due to be submitted to St Edmundsbury Borough Council imminently, along with a further plan for a 21,000 sq ft business centre.
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With an additional 500 jobs due to be created by the town's Cattle Market scheme, which will herald the arrival of further retail giants such as Debenhams, the move is being seen as an added vote of confidence in the west Suffolk economy.
Chrissie Harrod, of Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce, said: “From a personal point of view I think this is a great idea.
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“If you look at that site at the moment it needs some TLC, so anything that's going to improve that area and create jobs has to be welcomed.
“The attraction of a major retailer is very positive for Bury St Edmunds and the fact these sorts of businesses want to come here shows how well the town is doing.”
Mrs Harrod said the Asda proposal had been warmly welcomed by other businesses close to the site, although some retailers in the town had expressed misgivings about its planned arrival.
David Nettleton, St Edmundsbury borough councillor, said: “Planning considerations aside, this is great news.
“It is a very good site strategically and is what is needed on that side of town. Not only that, but the creation of jobs has to be a good thing.”
Asda, owned by the world's largest retailer Wal-Mart, said it had already held an open day on the site and the early consultation with nearby businesses and residents had met a positive response.
Naomi Duggan, from Asda, said: “We are really pleased that so many people made an effort to attend the open day and let us know their views.
“The comments received from local businesses and residents highlight the need for a new supermarket in this part of town and we are delighted to hear that most people specifically wanted to see an Asda in Bury St Edmunds.”
If successful, Asda would join the town's existing food stores Tesco, Sainsbury's, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose.
Mrs Duggan said there would be further improvements to footpaths and cycle routes close to the site, as well as the upgrading of bus stops on Western Way.
In addition to the supermarket - which will be served by a 380-space car park - it is thought the accompanying business centre, aimed at providing starter units for small businesses, could create further jobs.
If planning approval is granted, work is expected to start on the construction of the new store in the spring.