March 17 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Bosses at Asda have insisted a new Norwich superstore will be built, even though almost a year has passed since it was given the green light and work has yet to start.
The superstore giant’s plans for a new store at Harford Place, off Hall Road in Tuckswood, were controversially agreed on December 6 last year.
Asda bosses said then that they planned to start work on the 5,796 sq m store in 2013, but with just a month until the end of the year, that is not going to happen.
The company announced a new five-year plan this month to invest £1bn in lowering prices to boost its falling market share and to grow its online business.
But a spokesman for Asda has stressed that, despite the lack of progress on the Harford Place development, the superstore remains committed to the scheme.
Philip Bartram, senior property communications manager at Asda, said: “We are continuing to finalise our plans for a new store in Harford Place.”
Council leader Brenda Arthur declined to say whether she was disappointed by the lack of progress, but in a statement a council spokesman said: “We are in discussions with the site owners and will continue to do all that we can to bring forward this development. As far as we are aware the site will still be developed in accordance with the planning consent issued.”
The granting of planning permission for the superstore, at the former Bally Shoe Factory site, proved to be highly controversial.
In September last year, a proposal for the store was rejected by members of Norwich City Council’s planning committee, by five votes to four.
The reasons given by councillors for turning down the application was that it was too dominant for a district centre, the plans did not make best use of a brownfield site, protected trees would be removed, pedestrian access was not good enough and the car park was too dominant.
Following that 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 just four days, with 79pc saying that proposals for a the development near Tuckswood should have been given the go-ahead.
Less than three months after the proposal was rejected, identical plans were lodged with the council and the planning committee voted by seven to five to approve the plans, which also include a gym, pub, community centre, 334-space car park and other shops.
Developers said the scheme would create up to 300 jobs in the superstore and about 100 elsewhere on the site and Labour councillors hailed the economic boost it would bring.
Claire Stephenson, leader of the Green group, said after permission was granted that she believed the city had missed an opportunity to force Asda to come up with a better scheme.
One superstore which has opened in Norwich recently is the new Aldi in Sprowston Road. Eager shoppers queued in freezing temperatures to be the first in the store when it opened last Thursday.
The application for that store was approved by the city council’s planning committee in April this year.
• Are you impatient to see the Asda in Harford Place built, or would you be happy if it never happened? Tell us your views by writing to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.