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Councillors fear Project scheme would hit town centre

Wednesday, 7th April 2010.

Developers hoping to bring a a retail and business complex to the former Project site in Haverhill came up against serious reservations from town councillors at a meeting last night.

HPG announced their ideas last week and have been working to get some support locally before they put ina planning application in the next few weeks.

Part of their consultations saw them making a presentation to Haverhill Town Council planning committee last night.

The town council will have the opportunity to comment on the application when it comes forward, before a decision is made on it by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, the planning authority.

Initial reaction from councillors was concern about how the development would affect high street retailers.

HPG's Rob Shrimpling argued that Haverhill needed more comparable retailers to prevent people travelling to other towns to buy larger goods - so-called 'comparison' shopping, when people like to have a wider choice than one retailer.

The four retail units within HPG's scheme would all be nearly twice the size of an average high street shop, and would be for bulky goods retailers, who needed customer car parking.

But councillors were concerned for town centre retailers in electrical goods and in furnishings.

Cllr Margaret Marks said: "I am concerned about the impact on the town centre. Traders were very concerned about Tesco, which has been designed so people can walk from there to the town centre. This is right on the edge of the town centre."

Mr Shrimpling said HPG would not be selling the development on, but renting out the units, so if the town centre suffered, they would find that more difficult.

The scheme would also bring starter and small business units at the rear, which Mr Shrimpling said were not very profitable so not often provided by the free market.

Also included are a family restaurant and a builders merchants. No specific potential clients have yet been revealed, although HPG have been in discussions with several.

Cllr Maureen Byrne said: "Local people are inclined to want to support the town centre shops, but I have reservations about the effect of this development on Queen Street."

Mr Shrimpling admitted similar reservations had been expressed by Haverhill Chamber of Commerce when they met them last week, and St Edmundsbury planners had raised various issues.

HPG development director William Jewson was more direct. "The borough council have told us we have to demonstrate that we are not going to compete with the town centre," he said.

The site is not currently zoned for any form of retail use, but for industrial and light industrial.

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Haverhill, UKPosted by HANDBAG at 3:42PM on 7th April, 2010. (212.169.xxx.xxx)

Surely there are enough people in the town now to support more shops than we have, or is the Town Centre to stay the same however many people come to live in all the new developments that are planned on the Bury side of town? Aren't we to be allowed to choose between two furniture stores, or two electrical goods retailers, because if not, most people will continue to go to Cambridge or Bury the way they do now. Don't the local traders have faith in their businesses?

Haverhill, United KingdomPosted by Silvercat at 7:10PM on 11th April, 2010. (86.136.xxx.xxx)

I seldom venture to the town centre for its lack of choice when it comes to shops. Instead, my money is spend in Cambridge, Saffron Walden and occasionally Bury St Edmunds. I doubt I am the only one to behave that way, when I see the amount of traffic heading for Cambridge during the weekend. So any addition should be welcomed. Local councillors are always too worried about protecting what's there when sometimes it isn't worth protecting.


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