A FORMER B&Q shop is to be transformed into an Argos warehouse, discount gym and retail business after plans were approved.

Planners from supermarket giant Sainsbury’s said the site in Lightship Way, Colchester, offers the potential of “significant” economic benefits.

Sainsbury’s has earmarked the B&Q, which closed in 2021, for development since 2016 when it was initially granted permission to build a new supermarket there.

Colchester Council has now approved its refreshed bid to reopen the site’s doors with a variety of offerings.

Gazette: Vacant - the former B&Q in Lightship WayVacant - the former B&Q in Lightship Way (Image: Google)

The building will be subdivided to form three individual units, with its northern end occupied by a Local Fulfillment Centre for Argos.

The middle space is expected to house a 15,000 sq. ft. gym and the southern end will be occupied by a retail firm which will take on the existing garden centre and rebrand it.

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A statement on the application’s consultation reads: “Although there is no confirmed operator at present, we envisage that this unit could be occupied by a discount retailer who would sell a range of ambient food, household goods, garden products and kitchenware.”

Old Heath and the Hythe councillor Mike Lilley said he hopes the new future for the site will be a success.

Gazette: Hopeful - Old Heath and the Hythe councillor Mike LilleyHopeful - Old Heath and the Hythe councillor Mike Lilley

“We don’t like to see any buildings lying derelict and empty for ages, they need to be used for something,” he said.

“It would be nice if the business could help resolve the parking around the entrance road, and these plans will add a bit more traffic down there, but we have to support businesses that want to open up and employ people.

“It’s tough times for retail at the moment but we wish them good luck and hopefully it will be a success for the area.”

The site became vacant after B&Q pulled out and moved to Stane Retail Park in Stanway in 2021.

Sainsbury’s initially wanted to open a supermarket there but backtracked on its vision before returning to the table with its latest bid.

A planning statement adds: “There are significant benefits in respect of the proposal, including re-use of a vacant retail unit and new investment as well as job creation which are particularly important following the Covid-19 pandemic and during the current cost of living crisis.”

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