Plans shelved for new Tesco store in village

Tesco, Newmarket ANL-151201-160727001
Tesco, Newmarket ANL-151201-160727001

Plans to construct a new Tesco store in Lakenheath have been shelved by officials at the supermarket chain.

The store was one of 49 new supermarket projects, which also included one in Ely, that was announced as being scrapped for good by the company’s chief executive Dave Lewis on Thursday.

Given the go-ahead by Forest Heath District Council’s (FHDC) planning committee in December 2010, the new store was to be constructed on the former Matthews Florist and Garden Centre site, and was expected to provide up to 150 full and part-time jobs.

“It was with a heavy heart that I announce that we are unable to proceed with 49 planned new store developments across the UK, including our planned store in Lakenheath,” said Dave Lewis, chief executive.

“Our performance as a business has fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be and my absolute imperative has to be to protect the future of our business for the 300,000 colleagues we employ in communities all over the UK.“

“I know that this news will be a real disappointment to many people in the local community and we’re extremely grateful for the support we’ve received for our plans.

“I am very aware of the importance of the site to the area and I am determined that we will work closely with Forest Heath District Council to find the right solution for the local community.”

Expressing his disappointment at the news that Tesco would no longer be carrying out their plan to build a store in the village was Lakenheath Parish Council chairman, and FHDC councillor, David Gathercole.

“It is a big disappointment for us as when we heard Tesco were building a store here we were over the moon and we gave it our full support,” said Cllr Gathercole.

“We are quite fed up with the site it was supposed to be built on sitting there derelict as we have been on to them numerous times to do something but they have done the very minimum. It would have improved the look of the village.”

Although news of Tesco pulling out of plans to build in the village were seen as a setback Cllr Gathercole stressed that the village could cope with the decision for the time being.

“As the village is at the moment we can live with the decision as the Co-op has served us well and while it is not ideal it is at least something in the village to buy essentials,” said Cllr Gathercole.

“But if there is any expansion, however small it is , we will need the infrastructure to go with it such as a supermarket.”

While proposals to build new stores in Lakenheath and Ely are now dead in the water, the company confirmed that it would still be going ahead with expanding its existing Newmarket superstore, along with creating a new express store in the High Street.

“We continue to believe that an on-site replacement store in Newmarket will provide a valued service to the local community. The larger store will provide a great shopping experience as well as bringing additional jobs and investment to the area,” said Mr Lewis.