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North Walsham supermarket plan set for probable refusal

PUBLISHED: 09:00 16 March 2013

The Marricks Wire Ropes site at North Walsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The Marricks Wire Ropes site at North Walsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

Planners are likely to give the thumbs down to a large supermarket and petrol station on the outskirts of North Walsham - although one as-yet unknown set of circumstances could result in an about turn.

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) officers believe the scheme would be far too damaging to the town centre and that applicant Scott Properties’ package of suggestions to lessen its impact would be “wholly inadequate”.

They are recommending that Thursday’s NNDC development committee members reject the scheme - but their decision is complicated by a new proposal for another supermarket in the town centre.

Scott Properties want to build a supermarket with a net sales area of about 39,000sq ft, with parking for 412 vehicles, and a petrol station, on the former Marricks Wire Ropes site, Cromer Road. It would create about 250 jobs.

A report by NNDC’s retail consultant Mark Wood Associates calls the scale of the proposed supermarket “excessive” and says, if approved, the town could lose one third of its total trade in 2016.

A total of 11 representations on the plan have been lodged, including seven objections, and three in support.

North Walsham Town Council supported the proposal subject to a long list of conditions.

Thursday’s committee members will be presented with a complicated set of scenarios by their officers who say that, as well as the impact on the town centre, the application may not meet the “sequential test”.

The test requires a supermarket to be as close as possible to the town centre and there is still one site, The Lawns at Paston College, which could be deemed to be closer.

Paston chiefs will shortly discuss a proposal by another developer to build a supermarket on The Lawns, although principal Kevin Grieve has expressed frustration at speculators approaching the college and has said that it would have to be “a very substantial offer indeed” to be acceptable.

A report to the committee says the officers’ recommendation is partly dependent on Paston’s decision.

If the college did agree to The Lawns being developed, officers would recommend refusing Scott Properties’ application as a site closer to the town centre would then be available.

In the event that Paston rejects the proposal but Scott Properties do not offer acceptable measures to lessen their store’s impact, the recommendation would also be refusal.

But if Paston says “no” to developing The Lawns, and Scott Properties can convince NNDC that it would do enough to counteract its store’s impact on the town centre, planning officers say they would advise approving the scheme.

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