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End of an eyesore?

PUBLISHED: 09:31 05 December 2008 | UPDATED: 09:31 11 May 2010

A LANDMARK building, dubbed one of Suffolk's ugliest constructions, could be transformed into three new shops as part of a major expansion programme by Asda, in Lowestoft.

A LANDMARK building, dubbed one of Suffolk's ugliest constructions, could be transformed into three new shops as part of a major expansion programme by Asda, in Lowestoft.

The supermarket giant has submitted three planning applications to Waveney District Council, including a number of design changes to the vacant factory unit on the site known as Belvedere Road Retail Park, to make it more attractive to prospective retail tenants.

They also want to build a new petrol station next to the car park and add a mezzanine level of 30,000 sq ft to the existing store, extending customers' product and service choice by 64pc.

As part of these proposals, the store, part of Wal-mart Limited, plans to create a number of new jobs for the town, in a time when many other companies are experiencing an economic downturn.

The 30,000 sq ft unit was built in 2005 alongside Asda's store, as part of a £30m development to regenerate the South Quay, a derelict harbourside site and once the home of Richards Shipbuilders.

But since its completion, it has remained empty, with many people branding it an eyesore and the Suffolk Preservation Society calling it one of the five worst buildings in the county.

Last night the society's director Richard Ward said he was delighted to hear about Asda's plans.

“Potentially this is excellent news for both Lowestoft and the site, because having empty units doesn't portray the town in a good light; it doesn't make it look viable or economically prosperous,” he said.

“We would suggest a change of use is the right thing to do and would address some of the original design flaws of the building. If we deal with all of that, it's something we wholeheartedly support.”

Although Waveney District Council granted original consent for the opening of Asda in 2004, the permitted use of the additional building, was for a factory outlet centre only.

Despite being marketed extensively over the last three years no such users have been found.

Asda now plans to change the use of Belvedere Road Retail Park to make it less restrictive, in the hope of attracting interest from a wider range of traders, help promote the town more positively, generate new jobs and promote additional regeneration nearby.

The new look retail units will be ready for occupation in 2009.

Tom McGarry, property communications manager for Asda said: “The Asda store has contributed to the current social and physical regeneration of this area of Lowestoft. 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 expected to consider all three planning applications in the new year.

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