Traders close to store battle victory

WORRIED traders are on the verge of winning their battle to stop a huge expansion at a Tesco store from threatening the viability of their town centre.

WORRIED traders are on the verge of winning their battle to stop a huge expansion at a Tesco store from threatening the viability of their town centre.

The plan by Tesco to increase the sales area by 50% at the Martlesham Heath store, near Ipswich, is poised for rejection by Suffolk Coastal District Council planners on February 5.

A report released yesterdayhighlighted the threat to Woodbridge town centre if the store was given permission to substantially increase the amount of comparison products it sells.

The company wants to make the Martlesham Heath store larger to give more room for adult clothing, home entertainment, children's clothes and toys, linen, towels, electrical goods, a cookshop, seasonal goods, sports equipment and baby accessories.


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But these are products that can be found in Woodbridge's Thoroughfare and the town's businesses and shopkeepers have protested about the proposed development.

Woodbridge and District Chamber of Commerce said: ''Since the opening (1994)of Tesco at Martlesham businesses have been very aware of the magnetism such a store provides, drawing customers away from the small market towns for 'one stop' shopping. An extended version of Tescos, providing non-food goods, will only aggravate our situation in Woodbridge and similar size towns near to us.''

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Marion Wells, the town centre manager, said: ''While Tesco claim that they do not want to become a primary comparison goods retailer and so are not a threat to the businesses in Woodbridge, many businesses will suffer if this extension goes ahead.

''People will be attracted to the goods in Tesco when they are there doing their convenience shopping and make impulse purchases which are the core business for many of the town centre businesses.''

Dr Wells warned that more than 120 businesses in the town centre could suffer, ''due to the reduced footfall caused by leakage of comparison spend to the proposed new Tesco.''

When Tesco was built nearly 10 years ago there was a condition that only up to 10% of the floorspace could be used for comparison goods. Tesco now wants this restriction to be relaxed by the district council.

A separate application by Tesco to build a terrace of three non-food retail units on land at the corner of Felixstowe Road and Anson Road is recommended for approval. There would be parking for 197 cars.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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