Asda wants to double shop units and stop cut price community use of gym at long-awaited Norwich store

Artist's impression of the proposed Asda at the Bally Shoe Factory in Norwich Artist's impression of the proposed Asda at the Bally Shoe Factory in Norwich

Monday, July 28, 2014
11:50 AM

One of the most controversial Norwich planning applications in recent years looks set to be back on the agenda – after superstore giant Asda applied to change conditions attached when it was given permission for a city store.

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The firm wants to double the number of retail units from four to eight at the £122m development of the former Bally shoe factory off Hall Road.

And it is asking to go back on its pledge to make a gym on site available for public use.

Asda has submitted the proposed changes as an amendment to the controversial plan. But civic watchdog The Norwich Society said: “We believe the change in the number of retail units from four to eight is not a minor alteration and should be considered as a new application.”

In December 2012, the company was given the green light by Norwich City Council for the development. The plans included a 5,796 sq m Asda superstore, and a gym, pub, community centre, 334-space car park and other shops at the derelict site.

But, with up to 400 jobs promised. people have grown frustrated at the lack of progress on the site and it has now emerged that Asda has asked the city council if it can vary the planning permission it received.

In a submission to City Hall, Mark Underwood, from Deloitte, said: “Asda is currently in negotiations with a commercial gym operator.

“The operator in question is likely to require the gym to be open 24-hours-a-day seven-days-a-week and provides its members with an excellent range of brand new cardiovascular and fitness machines for a low monthly membership fee, which is paid by direct debit with no membership contract.”

But he said the operator had advised Asda that it could not comply with the planning permission clause which allowed community access to the gym for at least 20 hours per week at a charge of at least 50pc less than the usual price.

He said: “The operator’s membership rate is likely to be around £10 per month pre-opening and from around £18 a month post opening. A 50pc reduction (less than £5 per month pre-opening) would make the operator’s offer unviable.

“Furthermore, the operator has also advised that they cannot comply with the clause which requires the gym to be used by local schools and colleges for not less than 10 hours per week free of charge.

“Due to the operator’s proposed 24-hour business concept, it would not be practical to allow schools/colleges free access. In addition, members must be aged 18 plus, with a bank account.”

He said, despite the sought after increase in the number of retail units, the actual floorspace of those units would drop slightly, from 11,075 sq m to 11,067 sq m.

A spokesman for Asda said: “We have submitted an application to allow a small increase in the sale of non food goods such as clothing and the latest DVDs.

“We are committed to bringing forward the new store and community centre as soon as possible.”

The matter is due to come before members of the city council’s planning committee in August or September.

The original plans proved controversial. They were approved less than three months after city councillors rejected the same proposal.

Members of Norwich City Council’s planning committee voted seven to five in favour of the development, months after turning it down by five votes to four.

Following the first decision, in a poll organised by the Norwich Evening News, nearly four in five people said councillors had got one of the city’s biggest planning decisions for years wrong.

Almost 1,000 readers had their say in four days, with 79pc saying that proposals for the development should have been given the go-ahead.

Since permission for the new Asda was granted, the green light has been given for rival food store Morrisons to open around the corner.

Work has already started for the new Morrisons store to take up some of the existing B&Q store at Neatmarket, off Hall Road, which supermarket bosses said would create 300 jobs.

What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

17 comments

  • Channel 4's Dispatches shown last night was all about supermarkets and how the big 4 are being taken on by the discounters. They said that many of the proposed developments by the big 4 are being shelved. Maybe as someone has already said, this is what Asda is doing, but in a way that looks like somebody else's fault. They also showed that Asda was the cheapest of the big 4 but beaten by Aldi and Lidl. The problem is that there aren't any Asda, Aldi or Lidls on the A47 side of the city, so we're stuck with expensive Tesco and Waitrose.

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    Sugarbeet

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • Keith S maybe cause I know so many people who had their hrs reduced to make way for those on Zero Hour Contracts and Workfare Placements. People try to avoid that subject cause they themselves are probably business owners doing the same thing, ie explioting staff. Keith while people are on so few hrs and not much income, that means they do not pay National Insurance and Income Tax, also it means that they still have to claim Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or JSA, ESA to top up their income to what the law says you have to live on. Maybe I suggest you read my whole comment rather than pick out parts that are you don't like hearing. Or is that something you do AS usual :)

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    che bramley

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • looking forward to the mixing of fresh bread smell with that of cooked meat and sweaty armpits, what a sheer delight that must be. The paid for advocats here are doing this sagging retailer no justice, they have to do this diversion because they are hopelessly outgunned by the Aldi's and Liddl's of this world showing them were to get off. Overpriced supermarkets are on the way out, they are desperate to share the costs now.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • Just like its' parent company Walmart,ASDA games the system to advantage.A reminder we are not governed by elected politicians but by corporate oligopolies,and the bankers funding them, pulling their strings.

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    Peter Watson

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • ASDA is the best supermarket company the quality & prices are excellent. But the location of the store at Drayton Road is a nightmare to get to. I can get from Thorpe to Gt.Yarmouth store quicker than the one at Hellesden. If I go by bus it takes 4 bus journeys, if I drive there it takes at least 20 minutes or has taken 30 minutes. The morrison store at B & Q should never have been given permission the one at Riverside is only a mile away. Be alright when the NDR is finished most of the traffic congestion will be gone?

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    gismo

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • ‘Community access to a gym for at least 20 hours per week at a charge of at least 50pc less than the usual price’ – Get real, which gym company would agree to this and why would anyone pay the full price when the ‘poor people’ are there at half the price. Not that it will matter for long, as I am sure that the council will soon get around to banning cars from Hall Road and wreck the businesses there, just as they are doing to the city centre now.

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    Norfolk John

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • Che - if you understood the complexity of staffing shift hours you'd know why supermarkets have so many part time workers. Clearly don't, but you've not let that stop you from suggesting you do.....as usual!

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    KeithS

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • Ideal site for housing,with Morrison's just down the road do we need another Supermarket on this site.

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    Edwin Bailey

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • Just how many supermarkets do the folks of Norwich need. You can only eat so much food and I very much doubt people actually shop around for the best deals in each outlet. We are led to believe we need affordable housing what better than a brownfield site. Easy access to city.

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    jennifer jane

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • As usual get planning permission then force through changes and conditions. Just like all the other developers, especially a certain one in Bradwell. I expect the councillors will agree to this as well.

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    "V"

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • A different view here. ASDA's twisting and turning, and wanting to change conditions. They've probably already worked out that the council could say no. If it does, then ASDA can walk away and blame someone else, when really they've been worried about viability for a while. Especially with the new Morrison's already underway next to B&Q just down the road.

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    Anglianjacky

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • I say give them permission, they'll build a pub at least! Which will hopefully be good for the area. Huge out of town supermarkets seem to be going out of fashion anyway, I've switched to the market for things like fruit, veg and some meat and a new Aldi near my home. I used to go to Asda all the time, I look back and wonder why.

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    jonno1805

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • This was debated long and hard in the council chambers and in the EDP. Planning permission was finally given for the plans that were submitted. These changes alter the community facilities which were granted as being vital to the area. As the change is substantial, rather than minor, either the change should be rejected or the application should be treated as a whole new application, replacing the previous. If so, I believe it should fail.

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    So_Many_Haters!

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • Max Headroom you also need to realise how many Supermarkets Norwich already has including the smaller stores such as Tesco Express, Morrisons Local, and Sainsburys Local. Is there a real need for another Superstore. Yes Jobs will be created but how many of them will be full time? Well not many is the answer. ASDA seem to recruit people on either 8-16 hr contracts and also it uses unemployed people on Workfare Placements, ironically ASDA and other large organisations can find 40hrs wek for these people, as they do not pay them any wages, work for benefits is what is is called by this Government and DWP, I call it exploitation and modern day slavery. There is always a knock on effect when a Supermarket is built, smaller businesses can no longer survive, and we are talking about family run businesses which have be run by many generations. What is the end result oh job losses. Do we need to also mention the impact of extra traffic, considering the site of this new store is near to residential properties we also have to consider the increase in pollution and noise, and also take into account peoples safety ie when walking or cycling. This is why planning applications take so long, as there are many other factors to be taken into consideration, but it seems some people want build everything NOW and worry about it in a few years, by which time it is far to late.

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    che bramley

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • When will the communist city council realise that our 'fine city' depends on commerce for its life blood. They block or make difficult supermarket planning applications on derelict empty sites while allowing them to flourish in the city centre, destroying exsting businesses. It won't matter soon anyway - no-one will be able to get into the city unless they are prepared to take out a mortgage for the bus fare.

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    Max Headroom

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • Stop messing around and grant them permission without ridiculous clauses. Why should privately funded businesses be forced to give free or reduced time to groups of people? We're a capitalist country, not communist.

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    Mooseyt4

    Monday, July 28, 2014

  • That old trick, the superstores are experts when it comes to planning applications.

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    Rob_H

    Monday, July 28, 2014

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

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