Planning inspector says Norwich Sainsbury’s store can go ahead

A planning inspector has granted planning permission for Rush Lighting to become a Sainsbury's. Photo: Steve Adams A planning inspector has granted planning permission for Rush Lighting to become a Sainsbury's. Photo: Steve Adams

Thursday, July 10, 2014
9:30 AM

A planning inspector has ended a fight by campaigners to stop a new Sainsbury’s opening in Norwich - after ruling city councillors should not have refused permission for the store.

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Supermarket controversies

Supermarkets, Norwich City Council’s planning committee and controversy have gone hand in hand on a number of occasions in recent years.

Plans for a new Asda store in Hall Road were approved in December 2012, less than three months after city councillors rejected the exact same proposal.

Members of Norwich City Council’s planning committee voted seven to five in favour of the £122m development at the former Bally Shoe Factory site.

The plans for the 5,796 sq m Asda superstore also include a gym, pub, community centre, 334-space car park and other shops at the derelict site on Hall Road, Tuckswood.

The plans were identical to ones rejected by the committee in September, when the application was turned down by five votes to four.

And one of the longest-running sagas revolved around the Tesco in Unthank Road. That store was granted permission in early 2009 and opened in July 2010.

The decision mirrors a similar situation five years ago, when Norwich City Council’s planning committee was told it was wrong to turn down applications by Tesco to open a highly controversial store in Norwich’s Golden Triangle.

The latest defeat for the city council revolves around plans for a new Sainsbury’s Local convenience store, at the site of Rush Lighting in Sprowston Road.

The city council’s planning committee went against advice from its own officers to turn down the proposal, which also included the demolition of the current store and the building of two flats, in June last year.

The committee rejected the plans because of what they deemed would be a “detrimental effect” on people living nearby, with a petition of about 700 names opposing the proposal.

But Roger Rush, who owns the building, appealed and planning inspector Karen Baker, who visited the site last month, has agreed, overturning the council’s decision.

In her report, she said: “I am satisfied that the proposed noise and disturbance would not be detrimental to the living conditions of neighbouring residents in Gertrude Road and John Grooms Court.

“I have considered all the other matters raised by the council and third parties, including the need for the supermarket; the impact on car parking on adjacent streets; the effect of this and other developments in the local area on highway and pedestrian safety; light pollution from display signs; the impact on privacy of local residents and anti-social behaviour; and the effect on the structure of neighbouring properties; but none changes my overall conclusion that the appeal should be allowed.”

Julie Brociek-Coulton and Kevin Barker, Norwich City Council ward councillors, had opposed the appeal.

Ms Brociek-Coulton said: “I think it’s disgusting. People tried so hard to stop it. We sent so much in to the inspector about how it would affect the area and I’m very disappointed.

“There’s an Aldi just up the road and we just don’t need another store in the area. It’s on the junction of four roads and the roads are so tight there that it’s going to cause all sorts of problems.”

Rush Lighting is part of the Abbeygate Lighting group of shops. Hannah Green, from the company, said if Mr Rush did now choose to end their lease, they intended to move to an alternative location in Norwich.

Mr Rush was not available for comment, but Paul Sellers, acquisition manager for Sainsbury’s said: “We’re very pleased that the developer’s appeal has been allowed.

“We feel a Sainsbury’s Local will bring additional choice to the area, as well as between 20 to 25 full and part-time jobs for local people.

“From experiences elsewhere, Sainsbury’s Locals also increase footfall to the area, which benefits other businesses nearby.

“The developer will be undertaking his works over the next twelve months. We very much look forward to welcoming people to our new store.”

• What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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