Alarm at Asda bid
PROPOSALS by supermarket giant Asda to transform a prime waterfront area of Lowestoft have come under attack from Urban Regeneration Company 1st East.Asda have submitted the second phase of a three-phase scheme for the area close to its Lowestoft store and this is likely to be considered by Waveney District Council soon.
PROPOSALS by supermarket giant Asda to transform a prime waterfront area of Lowestoft have come under attack from Urban Regeneration Company 1st East.
Asda have submitted the second phase of a three-phase scheme for the area close to its Lowestoft store and this is likely to be considered by Waveney District Council soon.
However, the proposals have been objected to by 1st East.
Last month The Journal revealed that Planning Potential, on behalf of Asda Stores Ltd, had submitted three applications to develop the vacant factory unit on the site at Belvedere Road Retail Park, build a new petrol station next to the car park and add a mezzanine level of 30,000 sq ft to the existing store.
With the potential to breathe new life into the area, and the opportunity to transform a landmark building that had been dubbed one of Suffolk's ugliest constructions, the proposed development was seen as a welcome relief to locals who had seen the units sit vacant for more than three years.
But this week, 1st East's chief executive Philip Watkins revealed that if the plans were to be given the green light, it would 'prejudice the development of the last phase to the Bascule Bridge.'
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1st East have subsequently objected to the plans after raising concerns about road access, flooding, retail need, public realm and the need for a comprehensive plan.
And explaining their stance this week, Mr Watkins said: 'We've been working with Asda and Newmarket Waterfront to bring forward a comprehensive development of South Peto Square (from Asda right up to the Bascule Bridge). The plans have been discussed for over two years at various meetings, and while we do welcome the Asda investment the aim is to regenerate the whole of the area from the currently vacant factory outlets to the bridge.
'Asda have submitted the three current planning applications now, but the report (presented by HGP Architects on behalf of Asda and Newmarket Waterfront) highlights the good aspects as well as the limitations of the existing proposals. The 1st East Design Panel is clear in its recommendation - one unanimously endorsed by the 1st East board - that the proposals be rejected'
Particular concerns have been expressed around traffic and the retail need - given that the Asda proposals would see 'a very significant increase in retail space.'
In a report to the council, listing their objections and the need for issues to be resolved ahead of any future decision, 1st East claim that this 'development might adversely impact existing retailers in the town centre at a time of economic difficulty.'
Mr Watkins said: 'This could mean loss of businesses in the town centre and loss of jobs, when we want to bring more retail into the area and reinforce the High Street.
'We would support the change of use of the factory outlet buildings for other uses - for example community/church groups, maritime heritage which have all made enquiries. We want to see the units used, just not to compete with the High Street.'
However, in their submission to the council, a planning statement in support of the application mentions any potential 'impact on the health of the town centre,' and the report states: 'Lowestoft is considered to be a healthy town and, consequently, the proposals at Asda will complement its recent growth.'
And echoing these sentiments, last month, Tom McGarry, property communications manager for Asda, said: 'Our proposals will bring forward the use of the vacant retail unit and provide the basis for further regeneration in the area.'
Waveney District Council is likely to discuss the applications later in the year.