Suffolk council blocks plan to build Focus store in town

Plans for DIY and garden store blocked amid fears of threat to existing businesses

Focus has been told it cannot develop a planned garden centre and DIY store in Suffolk. The company had planned a 2,500sq m store on the outskirts of Stowmarket, which would have created up to 35 new jobs. It included a 930sq m garden centre and parking for more than 100 cars. Councillors on Mid Suffolk District Council have followed planning officers’ recommendations and rejected the plan amid fears that the viability of the town centre’s other stores could be threatened. The council had previously backed the development. Suffolk Wildlife Trust called for an ecological appraisal of the site over concerns that a natural wildlife habitat could be in danger. Discussing the plan, Green Party councillor Andrew Stringer said: “This should go further out of town, if there are a lot of cars there will be congestion. This could be an environmental disaster, and the area deserves something better.” Liberal Democrat councillor Brenda McKinley added: “We already have well-established garden centres in Stowmarket. Stowmarket has lost a lot of character over the years and now we could lose out to a massive building.” But Conservative councillor Gordon Paton told reporters he favoured the development.

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