Thursday, February 28, 2013
Two town centre sites in North Walsham have been ruled out as possible supermarket or other major shop locations by property experts.
The Vicarage Street car park has failed to attract the interest of developers and retailers.
And Paston Sixth Form College has rejected the possibility of selling off its Lawns site for development, ploughing ahead instead with multi-thousand pound investment plans for improving student facilities on its campus.
The findings will be discussed by North Norfolk District Council’s (NNDC) cabinet on Monday.
The council commissioned property consultants Aspinall Verdi to investigate the sites’ potential in the hope that a town-centre supermarket or other large multi-national store would attract more shoppers to North Walsham where they would linger and visit other businesses.
The study’s conclusions are likely to bolster the chances of developers Scott Properties whose application for an edge-of-town supermarket and petrol station on Cromer Road is due to be discussed by NNDC planning councillors on March 21.
The findings mean that one major planning obstacle facing Scott Properties - the “sequential” test, showing that no site nearer the town centre was available - has been overcome.
NNDC leader Tom FitzPatrick said they would wait for the development committee’s decision on Scott Properties’ application before planning a strategy to try and help the town centre.
This could be based on its future as a service-centred town, or for retail.
Aspinall Verdi found that, although Vicarage Street car park was a financially viable proposition, there was no demand to develop it in the current economic climate.
The consultants contacted 35 multi-national retailers including Argos and Homebase, Brantano, Burger King, McDonalds, New Look, Next, Pizza Hut, Poundland, Primark, River Island, Sports Direct, Starbucks, and TK Maxx.
Only 33pc replied. Comments included North Walsham not having a large enough catchment area and the town having an “unsuitable demographic”.