Have your say: Were councillors right to refuse Asda development in Norwich?

The old Bally factory site from Bessemer Road, where the proposal to build an Asda Supermarket has been rejected by the City Council. Picture: Denise Bradley The old Bally factory site from Bessemer Road, where the proposal to build an Asda Supermarket has been rejected by the City Council. Picture: Denise Bradley

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
2:10 PM

The Norwich Evening News is today asking you, our readers, to have your say on one of the most controversial planning decisions in the city in recent times.

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Plans for a new Asda superstore on the former Bally Shoe site, near Tuckswood, along with community facilities and other shops, were voted down 5-4 at a planning meeting last week.

The refusal sparked a backlash, with Norwich City Council leader Brenda Arthur claiming that the committee had turned its back on up to 400 jobs for Norwich.

The Evening News has reported on widespread anger from residents and community groups in the area, who felt that a crucial opportunity to regenerate the area, which has long been derelict, had been missed.

But speaking to Evening News yesterday, the five councillors (four Greens and one Liberal Democrat) who voted against the application said they had taken the right decision for the future of the city. Asda said it was still considering its options regarding an appeal.

The old Bally factory site from Bessemer Road, where the proposal to build an Asda Supermarket has been rejected by the City Council. Picture: Denise BradleyThe old Bally factory site from Bessemer Road, where the proposal to build an Asda Supermarket has been rejected by the City Council. Picture: Denise Bradley

Today, the Norwich Evening News is launching a special vote to ask readers whether or not the planning committee’s decision was right.

Speaking last night, council leader Mrs Arthur said she was “still baffled” that the committee “couldn’t see jobs before polar ice caps”.

She reiterated her belief that the development would have brought new business into the city from outside, and created jobs through its construction, adding: “Ultimately, the responsibility must lie with those who were there, not those who weren’t.” Council officers had recommended that the committee approve the plans because of their economic and community benefits, despite them being in contravention to the council’s own planning policies.

Green councillor Stephen Little, who suggested the motion for refusal, said the planning committee had “a duty to protect the interests of the city,” and criticised Ms Arthur’s reaction as “outrageous”.

Leader explains councillor absences

Three councillors were absent from last Thursday’s meeting, including Labour’s Mike Sands and Jenny Lay, who could have swung the decision had they voted in line with their four party colleagues.

Labour leader Brenda Arthur, pictured, said: “I always knew that one of the members wasn’t going to be able to be there because of a long-standing work commitment. The other member had planned to be there but at the last minute was unable to attend owing to illness. We have one named substitute councillor, who was also unable to attend at such short notice.” Ms Arthur said the party was not allowed to enforce the whip on councillors, but warned: “Given my fury at this not going through, my group will be quite clear that there will be full attendance in future.”

He said the proposals went against the council’s agreed policies, and that the inefficient use of brownfield land which would result in ill-planned urban sprawl on to greenfield sites in future.

He added: “When you turn down an application you are not saying never: you are saying not this application, not now.”

Mr Little argued the development would “change the culture of the city”, hitting city-centre entrepreneurs and traders who are currently encouraged and protected by planning policy.

He added: “I think the decision was a brilliant one because it makes people stop and think about the direction we are going. We do not want to emerge from the recession with a poorly-planned city.”

The supermarket’s net floor space of 3,406 sq m was also significantly larger than the 1,300 sq m shop which had been identified by the council previously, he said. The proposal included plans for a pub, a gym, community centre and 334-space car park, with an estimated 400 jobs on the site.

However, Green councillor Neil Blunt questioned the job figures, which were stressed by Ms Arthur in the wake of the decision. He said: “We have not got a spontaneous expansion of consumption just because Asda opens a new store.”

He said any new plans should include a smaller supermarket and car park, improved community facilities and new homes, which had been part of earlier versions of the proposals.

“People deserve a more sensitive store than that particular Asda store would have delivered. It’s not a great design, and it’s yet another supermarket where there could be a genuine range of social amenities, and could be better configured so as not to be such a magnet for cars.”

Mr Blunt said he had gone to the meeting with an open mind, but had been persuaded by Mr Little’s arguments. “The Labour party were prepared to throw out a lot of agreed strategies in the way the city needs to go forward, in order to get a cheap hit,” he added.

Liberal Democrat Caroline Ackroyd, the sole non-Green to vote for refusal, said she expected the supermarket to return with a second bid, and conceded: “Ultimately I can see that we will go ahead with Asda, but with a revised and improved plan.”

She added: “With a large company like Asda, let’s persuade them to do a bit more for the site if they are going to develop it.

“We should be looking for the future even in times of recession, and maximising the site so that we can be proud of it in future – so that it’s useful and Norwich people really benefit from it.”

She said an improved plan would include housing options, better access for pedestrians and cyclists and a smaller car park.

Councillor David Rogers, who also opposed the plans, said the potential jobs boost was a “zero-sum game”, with other businesses likely to shed employees.

He added: “The problem is that Walmart [Asda’s parent company] come along and say ‘Here’s 400 jobs – take them or leave them.’ It takes more thought and consideration than that. Once people understand the context of the decision, they are sympathetic to it.”

Lucy Howard, the fifth councillor to vote down the plans, questioned the long-term sustainability of supermarket jobs, and said the poor pedestrian and cycle access ran contrary to planning policies seeking to encourage those activities.

A spokesman for Asda said the company had not reached a decision on whether it would appeal and was “taking time to consider the options”.

44 comments

  • How can protected trees be cut down for Asda to build a store? Protected should actually mean protected. They want to build a community pub, well pubs are closing left, right and centre because people buy cheap alcohol at supermarkets and take it home! Most of it is car park. Do you really want a giant car park on your back door - late night noise, deliveries, pollution, boy racers? You say you desperately need a supermarket. So Sainsburys, Tescos, Morrisons, all within walking distance are too far away? Have a look at the shopping developments on Riverside and Longwater, the most unimaginative, ugly developments. These supermarkets put up the ugliest, cheapest buildings that in years to come we'll be asking ourselves "what were we thing" (Anglia Square?). You talk about the local economy - what about supporting independent local traders who buy and sell locally and the money goes back into the local economy, not Wallmart, an American company who couldn't give a damn about our local economy. Thank goodness for local councillors who held their nerve and said it was insensitive to the area, protected trees would be cut down and it was badly designed. By the way, The Greens are the only party who ever bother to come and speak to people in my area and the jibes about wind power and solar power are outmoded - its fast developing technology that is being used the world over (by governments and councils of all persuasions). Im not a member of any political party by the way, don't work or volunteer for one. I just care about sensitively and imaginatively designed built environments.

    Report this comment

    TaylorDeacon74

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

  • most of the green party support come from well off middle class folk who can afford organic stuff and travel to out of town supermarkets leaving the poorer people of norwich a limited number of city centre cheap food oulets shame the greens are not bothered about working class people

    Report this comment

    blister

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Any large retailer with the same application would have been refused , as the size was too big. Have your say 'Have NCC cllr.s misled Norfolk voters over waste burner'? What other news is the EDP covering up with this sob story? How about informing Norfolk's people about the PCC elections in five weeks time?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Further, Greens are not responsible for Ms. Arthur's inability to get her errant cllr.'s to do their job. A storm in a tea cup which is being dragged out artificially by the press.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • i wonder if it had been another certain super market, (who's over run the city) would it have got though, and as far as effecting the city, no one said anything when they decided to build chapelfield when we already had the mall

    Report this comment

    Michael Turner

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • is there room for a speedway track instead?????

    Report this comment

    i am mostly wrong??

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • So how come Tesco can get everywhere and other supermarkets not.. Something fishy ?

    Report this comment

    parisj

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

  • To abandon and refuse planning permission for the hall road site , which like ANGLIA SQ is a blight on the city landscape can only be described as a shortsighted and wrong decision. In a time of severe austerity and few opportunities for employment the nimbies who decide what we need or dont need are out of touch with reality. Is the balley site going to sit and rot for years to come like ANGLIA SQ without any firm improvements. Perhaps the knit your own sandles green party would rather turn the whole site into a community centre for the disenchanted?!. if visual aspects of planning in norwich were such a concern , then why are featureless lego land estates springing up all over the city and suburbs without any thoughts into planning .If this council can can sacrifice jobs and opportunities for the unemployed then they should question there own.

    Report this comment

    wickobi

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

  • the trees are not protected that site has only been there in my life time and are pines trees are not rare

    Report this comment

    travelingchef

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

  • Hello Bookworm. Your comment has been taken onboard and reported to the administrators. Regards, Whiley.

    Report this comment

    Whiley Boy

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • If this would have been rejected by Labour with a few greens not showing up for the vote, the story would have been 'Greens miss important vote'. The planning brief was not adhered to and the application should have never been put forward for a vote by planners.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • why are we all so surprised that the Council refused permission...... it's the land at RAF Coltishall and the Dereham Road Bus Lane all over again.... give it a couple of months and I am sure that a plan which has already been agreed in 'secret' will suddenly get passed through with absolutely no thought or care for what local residents or the rest of the city's occupants think or need

    Report this comment

    graze69

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

  • Once again, the application for the store was too big, by thousands of square ft., it was against the planning brief and should have never put to a vote by the planning officers. If the EDP has any beef, it should be with the planners, errant Labour cllr's or with Ms. Arthur for her curd remarks, but not with those who voted to reject it.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • I don't live in the City but I think it should have been passed to create much needed employment and improve the area.

    Report this comment

    Andrew Norton

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • The green county councillor was only to happy to have the help of asda's community life champion when doing his recent litter pick. An Asda on the other side of the city would help with jobs as well as the local community. Let alone the cheap shopping for those of us who are on low incomes.

    Report this comment

    saffron

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • I wonder if it had been refused if it had been Tesco's..I hope Asda appeal it would be nice to see another one in Norwich..

    Report this comment

    jcordy43

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • A suggestion of 400 jobs should not allow a multinational company free rein to ride roughshod over planning constraints that were agreed in advance and hardly secret. Let Asda come up with a scheme that fits within the rules, or let the planning constraints for this location be discussed again.

    Report this comment

    littlesharpie

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • The Norwich Green Party need a reality check. The UK is in recession and will probably remain a low growth economy for many years. To adopt a high handed attitude towards a major planning application is not to their credit.

    Report this comment

    dancer7

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Don't blame the councillors for turning down Asda's planning application, blame Asda itself which must have known their plan goes against local planning policies. Being a big greedy company they put in this application (the store, remember, far, far larger than identified as appropriate by the council), thinking they could get away with it because the council was so desperate to get the site redeveloped. Thank goodness for the Greens and Lib Dem who stood up against the Asda bullies on this occasion. Read their sensible justification for turning down the application, and don't believe the hysterical line fed by Brenda Arthur that the opportunity has been lost. Don't worry, you'll get your Asda supermarket, but hopefully it just might not be quite so large or with quite such a monstrous car park.

    Report this comment

    ACW

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

  • Disappointing, as I had hear that the cheese counter was going to be very good. I guess that there is still hope that there will be a Tesco built on the site at some point. Regards, Whiley.

    Report this comment

    Whiley Boy

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Asda would be nice.city not a safe place to be

    Report this comment

    maureenmarney@aol.com

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • totally agree with Alecto. Why another supermarket within a small area, why not use this for the housing that is needed. Interesting similarity to Anglia square insomuch as the developers start off with a good idea but gradually get what they are really after by moving the goal posts... all greed driven.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

  • I thought they wanted to get the people into work instead they STOP 400 people from getting a job. Well Done to the Lib Dems and The Green Party.

    Report this comment

    sibs Wesley

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Considering Wal Mart pays its employs practically nothing and is massively anti-union I'm surprised that the Labour Party, funded mainly by trade unions, would have any reason to do with them. Labour Party members should hang their heads in shame at their dealings with this group. Labour no longer represents small buisnesses, working people or the environment and I'm appaled that people believe that another supermarket is the answer to any of the problems this city faces. The Green councillors made the right decisions based on the plans that were sumitted-end of.

    Report this comment

    Somethingood

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

  • Absolutely right.The greens would have us on horeseback and living in caves(pollution don't you know) Like the earlier comments the Greens don't live in the real world.Well,I didn't vote for them and I hope that anyone that was hoping for a job opportinity didn't vote them in either.If you did well done!!

    Report this comment

    Peter Evetts

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Labour and Conservatives have brought the country down on its knees, not the Greens. It was labour who refused to regulate the City onf london and still, nothing has happened. How can the public be so blind? because they are politically inept, unable to string their own two thoughts together without being told what to say by their genetically attached party. Ms Arthur should have got her cllr.s out of bed and pushed it through against all the planning rules, people here would have loved it.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Are you lot off your supermarket trolleys? In the close vicinity of the proposed site there are FIVE yes FIVE supermarkets ranging from large to absolutely gigantic, and if you insist on wanting to shop at ASDA because there is something that you can only buy there (Yeah right) there is one cluttering up the north of the city, less than ten minutes drive away. For heaven's sake get a grip. We cant go on building giant supermarkets. You cant need more than FIVE close by. What do you want, one in your back garden, every single one of you?

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • "........saying the city “deserves better”. And better is ?. Are the greenies going to get a "better" company to take it over then ?. No Thought not.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • i think we need a other suppermarket on this estate all we have is a tescos compertition is good as well as the jobs

    Report this comment

    travelingchef

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

  • Just goes to show that voting Green means voting for being stuck in the past . They are pretty much against anything to do with the real world world which most of us inhabit. If Greens had been in charge in previous years we would have had no improvements to the A11, no southern bypass, no Castle Mall, no Chapelfield, no new houses and none of the employment that those schemes brought. As for the freedom that driving a car brings to the vast majority, well forget it. Good job the Cathedral and Castle dont need planning permission from the Greens. Too big, dont fit in with surrounding buildings, not in the local plan, too much traffic during construction, will only encourage tourists who will probably get here by car.Sorry plans refused.

    Report this comment

    Abraham

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • As said my others on here,we do have a vast number of shopping options very close to the area as it is and thats not to mention the smaller shops that may well loose out more then they already do,and for another pub on the site....whats the point ?we have two local pubs as it is,The Lakenham cock and The Maid Marian.Pubs are shutting down in norwich every week and opening a branded pub ie Weatherspoons or the like on this site may well force one or both of these to close.

    Report this comment

    mr mac

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Well I think they are mad to refuse thats my opinion and I am sticking to it.

    Report this comment

    foxey

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • How many of these 400 jobs will be filled by unpaid young interns, and for how long do they have to work for free, before they are allowed to receive the full wage for shelf stacking? Sour grapes and party political points have nothing to do with this, Brenda Arthur should grow up and tell her errant cllr.'s to turn up. The plans went against the planning brief and should have never been voted upon. This is party politics and why people hate it, point scoring, if this would have been rejected by another party, the story would have long be forgotten and painted over by the EDP.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • The Hall Road site was an employment site for many years. Since Bally closed it has been derelict, There is no point putting houses there. The local councils have already earmarked plenty of other sites for houses . This site should be for jobs and business. The Greens have done everyone in the area a grave misservice, because the site looks like remaining derelict for years to come.

    Report this comment

    Abraham

    Friday, September 28, 2012

  • Well said Ingo. Some people will never see the wood for the trees.

    Report this comment

    oldowl

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Why do people insist that the world is not changing? In 1930 there were 30,000 households in Norwich, but that rose to 55,000 by 2000. The old model of people picking up 2 days shopping from the local butcher and greengrocer no longer apply, which is why city centres have changed from food to clothes. Car ownership has risen, whilst bus prices have not stayed at a level that encourages public transport. People therefore use cars much more for shopping and travel. The Greens, meanwhile, are stuck in 1930 and believe that nobody should use a car, that public transport should be the only option for everyone, and that we're all happy to pay through the nose for food by going to small, local shops. The Bally site has been derelict for years. The proposal was to provide not only an Asda, but also a community centre, a gym and other retail opportunities. Not to mention the short-term jobs of the construction.

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Its amazing to see so many here making money by banding company names about, a new job, brand caller. How many of those viral advertisers are operating here? This has nothing to do with the decision, this is free advertising for company's and brands.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Considering Wal Mart pays its employs practically nothing and is massively anti-union I'm surprised that the Labour Party, funded mainly by trade unions, would have any reason to do with them. Labour Party members should hang their heads in shame at their dealings with this group. Labour no longer represents small buisnesses, working people or the environment and I'm appaled that people believe that another supermarket is the answer to any of the problems this city faces. The Green councillors made the right decisions based on the plans that were sumitted-end of.

    Report this comment

    Somethingood

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

  • This is a May election stunt by the two deeply concerned parties, and has nothing whatsoever to do with this planning application. It has been objected to over size and scale for the area, and rightly so. If Labour thought it so important why didn't their committee members turn up, rather than wait until after the event and bleat about it? There will be so much more of this childishness leading up to the election in May, start recognising it for what it truly is - fear!

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Let's not forget that smaller shops mean higher prices and MORE lorries, not less. Higher prices because they can't get the volumes through, so must charge more to make a profit. More lorries because they don't have the storage or shelf space, so must be restocked more often. Smaller carparks mean cars will be sitting with engines idling, waiting for a parking space, resulting in more pollution, not less. Plus the conjestion on Hall Road with people waiting to get into a full car park.

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • You lot miss the point completely. 1. All Cllrs on Planning Cttee vote, not on party lines but as an individual. No doubt Labour and the Greens whip their cllrs to vote accordingly. Brenda Arthur will whip her Cllrs next time. Naughty naughty. 2. If cllrs are whipped planning decisions will be tainted and who knows where that will lead the decisions process? It would open the council up to more appeals and corruption could creep in. 3. What is point of having planning policy guidelines and then throwing it out of the window on a whim? Next we will bypass the planning cttee and there will be a free for all in; build what you like, where you like and when you like (it's coming)!

    Report this comment

    NchNthMan

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Seems strange that they say No to Asda, then mention banning Cars from St Stephens.

    Report this comment

    turnover

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Stuart, have you ever been into a supermarket store room?? No me neither & as an HGV driver I have delivered to MANY MANY different supermarkets. The reality is that they, unlike smaller stores do not have store rooms, in the way that you use the word. Goods go in the back door & are then moved as quickly as possible onto the shelves. The way supermarkets work is that the delivery trucks bring a variety of goods that are needed in cages. They do not bring excess to be stored for use tomorrow or next week, they do not deliver today, for tomorrow, (unless it is an over night delivery,) they deliver now, for what is needed now.

    Report this comment

    el84

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • One of the units behind ASDA could be an ideal sight for a topless hairdresses. More jobs..

    Report this comment

    Tone the moan

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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