A boarded-up shop that provides visitors to Haverhill with an unwelcome first impression of the town could be set for a new lease of life.
The Jubilee Walk store, which faces the town bus station, is being lined up for development thanks to a deal negotiated between St Edmundsbury Borough Council and the former occupier, Co-Operative Group, who closed it on November 26, 2011.
The unoccupied store is central to plans for creating a new square and bus interchange, one of six major projects proposed in the Haverhill Town Centre Masterplan.
St Edmundsbury Council has agreed terms with the Co-op which mean the site will shortly be in the council’s control and therefore available for future development.
Until those plans are ready for implementation, the borough council is hoping to complete a short-term lease with a new occupier.
Cllr Alaric Pugh, chairman of the ONE Haverhill Core Group, which has led the consultation on the masterplan, and is also St Edmundsbury Council’s cabinet member for planning and growth said: “This is excellent news for Haverhill.
“The site has been an eyesore and with the fresh new vision for the town centre it is right that the borough council has moved to take control.
“It is a positive step that will contribute to the vitality of the town while the exciting plans are prepared.”
St Edmundsbury Borough Council has pursued a corporate commitment to the regeneration of Haverhill for the last ten years, closely engaging with residents and businesses on how the town should grow.
St Edmundsbury Council chief executive, Ian Gallin said: “The town centre masterplan, led by ONE Haverhill, saw over 1,000 people engaging in the future of their town.
“Once it is adopted as planning guidance, developers will be able to use the plan to transform the town centre in line with those aspirations.”
Cllr Pugh continued: “The surrender of the Co-op lease means the borough council is taking control of the site to allow the new Jubilee Square to be delivered.
“We are also optimistic that a deal can be agreed for the building to be brought back into use in the short term whilst the long term future of Jubilee Walk and car park area continue to be developed.”
Early last month Poundstretcher revealed it had plans to move into the empty shop, with the company’s secretary Martin Collinson saying: “We are planning on opening a store in the town. It’s an old Co-Op site.
“It’s just waiting to complete the legals. We would indicate that it’s going to be open some time in early October.”
A borough council spokeswoman confirmed that no tenancy agreement had yet been signed for the building.