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New homes and retail units proposed for ‘prominent’ former Tesco building

PUBLISHED: 13:01 14 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:08 14 June 2020

The former Tesco Metro store on London Road North in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

The former Tesco Metro store on London Road North in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

Archant

New homes and retail units could be built as part of a major scheme to transform a prominent town centre building.

An artists impression of the scheme proposed for the former Tesco Metro building in Lowestoft town centre. These plans on the design and access statement have been lodged with East Suffolk Council. Picture: b3 architectsAn artists impression of the scheme proposed for the former Tesco Metro building in Lowestoft town centre. These plans on the design and access statement have been lodged with East Suffolk Council. Picture: b3 architects

The Tesco Metro store closed in Lowestoft town centre on September 28 last year after decades serving the community.

Having remained empty ever since, a new lease of life is being proposed with a scheme for almost 40 homes and three retail units being lodged with East Suffolk Council.

The former Tesco Metro store on London Road North in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick HowesThe former Tesco Metro store on London Road North in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

Plans to partially demolish, convert and extend the building, to provide commercial units and residential units have been lodged by Lowestoft Developments Ltd for the site at 119-125 London Road North in Lowestoft, which are currently awaiting decision.

A design and access statement submitted by agents B3 Architects Ltd on behalf of the applicants states: “119-125 London Road North is a prominent building situated in Lowestoft town centre.

The former Tesco Metro store on London Road North in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick HowesThe former Tesco Metro store on London Road North in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

“The building was previously occupied by the supermarket chain Tesco, the store closed in September 2019 and has remained vacant since.

“The proposed development at 119-125 London Road North seeks to provide three renewed commercial units to the ground floor, 37 new residential apartments and two townhouses.”

The former Tesco Metro store on Gordon Road in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick HowesThe former Tesco Metro store on Gordon Road in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

With the site area measuring 2,445m sq (0.6 acres), the existing building is predominantly three storey.

It adds: “Our proposals seek to demolish the third storey at roof level, and extend up from the concrete frame to create a development of five storeys in total, with two communal amenity spaces – one on the ground floor and one on the first floor – proposed within the development totalling 534m sq.

The former Tesco Metro store loading bay in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick HowesThe former Tesco Metro store loading bay in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

“Two secure bicycle stores are proposed within the development to provide a total of 76 secure bicycle spaces.”

The development proposes three commercial units, 37 apartments and two townhouses.

The former Tesco Metro store loading bay on Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick HowesThe former Tesco Metro store loading bay on Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

It states: “The proposed residential mix includes eight, one-bed apartments; 29, two bed apartments and two, three bed Townhouses.”

“The proposed mix of commercial units would provide three different units of varying sizes.”

The former Tesco Metro store loading bay on Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick HowesThe former Tesco Metro store loading bay on Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

According to the plans, commercial unit one measures 457.5m sq (4,924 sq ft), commercial unit two measures 229.2m sq (2,467 sq ft) and commercial unit three measures 90.6m sq (976 sq ft).

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Matt Goddard, managing director of Picture Studios in Lowestoft, owns the building next door to the proposed development on London Road North.

He believes the proposed scheme is positive news, with potential investment coming into the town centre.

He said: “Lowestoft town centre is no different to most towns in the UK, seeing a decline in footfall and empty shops over the last few years.

“People’s buying habits have changed. Town centres used to be filled with shoppers, but now these shoppers are using other avenues available to them.

“We all run busy lives and a vast number of us now choose to shop online or visit one of the many retail parks where you can pull up outside the front door.

“I feel the best way to deal with change is to embrace it and adapt. This is a national problem and we can’t keep fighting this change. We need a new way of using our town centres, a new look!.

“I own the building right next door to this proposed development. Of course I have my natural concerns of how it may affect my business during the build stage, but I think this could see a start in a ‘change’ to how we use our town centres.”

Mr Goddard added: “Currently there is a national housing crisis and a shortage of land to build on.

“Town centres have so much redundant space above the shops that have sat empty for years, I think it makes ideal sense to use this space to create living accommodation.

“Could this be the change that is needed? Could large redundant units that have sat empty for some time, now be ideal places for such businesses as medical services, gyms, indoor golf or bowling alleys.

“These would be ideal businesses that would suit these large, difficult to fill units.

“The smaller empty shops would slowly become more attractive again to new businesses.

“This all sounds great on paper but it’s still a very long journey.

“A journey that local government would have to get behind too, they need to take action to bring back some of the services that they have since taken out of the centre of town and look at business rate reductions and incentives.

“Many people are always quick to judge any news on the town centre negatively rather than look for the positives and this news will attract those exact same people.

“There is no magic wand which will take it back to ‘the good old days.’

“We have to move with the times and embrace change.”


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