We have now met the Tesco team. We put our case to them (as set out in the April Newsletter) which they went through line by line. The proposed Tesco Extra superstore would be nothing like as large as we stated but smaller than at Copdock. They are keen to emphasise our error! The figures we gave refer to the whole development including the "further retail/restaurant and cafe units".
They reiterated the view that people would come to the free car park, walk the difficult walk to the town centre, walk back and do the big shop at Tesco's and drive home. We are not convinced.
The commonest complaint they receive is of overcrowding and too narrow aisles. They think they need extra space to improve their offer and they will not take much trade from other supermarkets. Currently, according to their figures, they have 31% of trade compared with Sainsbury's 38%. This is without their two latest outlets in Duke Street and at St Matthew's roundabout. We don't believe that Tesco is very concerned about improving its offer unless it leads to an increased share of trade and hence profits. It seems as if, when all is established, Tesco's would have over 40% of the trade. Is this a situation we are happy with?
Their analysis of the other potential shopping sites was thus: the Mint Quarter- it hasn't happened yet after 15 years and so it never will; Crown Street North - not worth mentioning; the Civic Centre site - too small as proposed and too little car parking.
After discussions with Ipswich Central they said that town centre traders were pleased to have the extra free car parking and felt that their specialised wares would not be affected. However a recent report in the Evening Star told an entirely different story. They were adamant that the functional passageway to Princes Street bridge was in fact a good piece of modern architecture and would stay. They were dismissive of the idea of a fine footbridge running from near the Railway Hotel diagonally across the river.
In view of the current financial situation they thought it likely that it would be built in stages - that is a bare store without the apartments or hotels and fitness centre. This would lead to a half finished building in a prime site. As regards the increased traffic generated they were relying on Suffolk County Council to produce a plan for the gyratory system to solve it! They would consider our suggestion for a secondary entrance from the riverside.
Finally, there have been a mere nine letters of objection; could members please write.
Mike Cook and John Norman