Gresham’s School and Thaxters go head-to-head over rival Holt supermarkets

PUBLISHED: 10:42 03 January 2013 | UPDATED: 16:51 03 January 2013

Land in Holt which is earmarked for a new supermarket.

Land in Holt which is earmarked for a new supermarket. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2012

Rival supermarket plans are going head-to-head as two of Holt’s biggest names disagree over what is best for the town’s shoppers.

Historic independent school Gresham’s has this week revealed early details of its plan to develop a supermarket, shop and housing complex at the site of its pre-prep school by Market Place.

But established business Thaxters, which has a rival plan at its headquarters next to the bypass, has slammed the scheme and urged planners to reject it.

The coming days are set to be pivotal for the store wars clash.

On Tuesday, members of North Norfolk District Council’s development committee will visit the site of the proposed supermarket at Thaxters, submitted by Norwood Homes for an unnamed store firm.

The public exhibition for the plans submitted by Gresham’s School, including the superstore and other elements of the school’s 10-year development plan, is at St Andrew’s Parish Church hall on Friday January 11 from 5.30pm to 8pm and Saturday January 12 from 9am to 12 noon.

The school and its partner Endurance Estates of Cambridge is working with conservation architects Cowper Griffith, putting together what it calls “sympathetic and complementary” proposals to refurbish the historic building and develop the surrounding 2.5-acre site.

The plan includes moving the pre-prep school and converting the Old School House - used by Gresham’s since 1555 - and the surrounding land to include a restaurant, shops, homes, a public open space and a drinks kiosk.

A little further down Station Road, there would be a “small foodstore”, measuring 15,000sq ft, with car parking on the fringe of land beside the road and Pearson’s Road. The supermarket would be on the ground floor, with flats above.

Tim Holmes, director of Endurance Estates, said: “The site is so important to Holt and to Gresham’s, so the two main considerations for our proposals are to enhance what Holt has to offer residents and visitors and to enable Gresham’s to modernise and improve its educational facilities, both with sensitivity for the Holt community.”

Norwood Homes has hit back with a detailed rebuttal of the plans, saying: “The proposals do not meet local or national policy requirements for pedestrian provision, retention of existing public parking, public transport integration and land designated as open land.”

It added that traffic would increase on Station Road, that the development was located further away than the Thaxters plan from the residential development south of the bypass, and questioned road safety on Station Road, where there had been “numerous accidents, with the majority involving pedestrians”.

Members of Holt’s Chamber of Trade are concerned the threat of another supermarket will undermine the existing Budgens store and affect the viability of independent traders in the town. They are opposing both plans, though said the Gresham’s location was more favourable.

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