Taverham Nursery in Fir Covert Road. Photo: Bill Smith

Legal wrangle forces fresh vote on new Norfolk superstore

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
2.41 PM

The future of a supermarket complex on the outskirts of Norwich, which developers say would create more than 360 jobs, is hanging in the balance because of a legal wrangle.

A war of words between Norwich City Council and Broadland District Council means councillors will today vote again on whether the scheme in Taverham goes ahead - six months after they gave it the green light.

Broadland District Council granted permission in January for the development, on land near Taverham Nursery Centre, It is slated to include a 45,000 square foot supermarket, petrol station, pub-diner, a ‘lifestyle leisure unit’ and car parking for nearly 600 cars.

Applicant M Scott Properties had said the 5.2-acre development would bring an estimated 368 jobs, both full and part-time, to the area and secure a further 153 at the Fir Covert Road garden centre.

But Norwich City Council objected to the scheme, arguing the area was not identified in blueprints for future development as a location for retail growth and that alternative sites had not been properly considered for the part of the development earmarked as a ‘lifestyle leisure unit’.

Despite the city council’s objections, Broadland councillors gave it the go-ahead by 14 votes to 10, but, subsequently, City Hall officers paid for lawyers to look into the issue.

Those lawyers said Broadland’s decision was not “sound”, and the city council has written to Broadland to argue there were “defects in the decision making process”.

The city council says committee members did not get clear advice as to whether the retail proposal conflicted with policies for where development should be permitted and does not fit in with the joint core strategy - a blueprint for where homes and jobs should be created in the years ahead.

City Hall also argues that a proper test was not done to check whether other sites in Norwich would be more suitable for such a scheme.

The concerns raised have forced Broadland District Council to put the matter back in front of members of their planning committee.

However, Broadland has consulted lawyers of its own and officers are advising that councillors once again approve the scheme.

The report from Broadland officers says other considerations outweigh any conflict with the development plan.

They say: “This proposal will enhance and promote the existing long established business at the nursery centre, helping to secure employment opportunities at the centre.

“In addition, the proposal will have the effect of improving the sustainability of the Taverham area. The supermarket will be an anchor which will encourage linked trips to the existing nursery centre and the proposed lifestyle leisure unit will benefit from this.”

Nobody from Colchester-based M Scott Properties was available to comment.

A decision will be made when Broadland District Council’s planning committee meets at the council’s headquarters in Yarmouth Road today.

Retail giant Morrisons has been linked with the project, although the developers have said no supermarket will be lined up until planning permission has been granted.

• Are you battling against a planning proposal where you live? Tell us about it by calling reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk