Campaigners have signed-up in their hundreds calling for a “lifeline for the local elderly” to be saved.

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Designs for 14 flats proposed to be built on land which includes the West Earlham Mini Market, in Wilberforce Road, Norwich, went on display last night.

Norwich City Council is planning to give the land to Cotman Housing Association to provide housing at affordable rents.

But people living in the area are concerned about the potential loss of the shop serving the community, which they fear could mean people have to walk further to buy food. Dennis Thompson, of Savery Close, said: “This removal of a shop on our doorstep is the removal of a lifeline for the local elderly.”

Council officials last night offered assurances that a new shop was being considered in the new proposals.

Sutha Karan, owner of the mini market, said a petition set up in his shop had collected 400 signatures in just a few days. He said he would like to remain in the area if a new shop is created.

Mr Karan, who has been at the site for three years and serves 600 customers a day, said: “I’ve put a lot of money into the shop. When I took over the shop was in a really bad condition. I invested a lot of money, refurbished it. It’s very sad.”

Comments on the pre-application designs can be submitted to the council until this Friday. A planning application for the land is expected to be submitted to the authority by October. If approved, building work will take place early in 2013.

City council documents state: “If the application is given approval, the council will sell the land to Cotman and then use this money to give back to Cotman as grant funding.

“This means the council effectively gives the land away for free in exchange for the new homes being delivered at ‘affordable rents’ for people in housing need in the city.”




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