Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Town-centre traders would be seriously harmed by an extra supermarket on the outskirts of North Walsham, according to an official report.
The proposed store, near the new Waitrose on Cromer Road, would also pose a major threat to Sainsbury’s and Lidl’s, says the report by planning and development consultants MWA.
Developers Scott Properties want to build a 5,575 sq m (60,000 sq ft) supermarket and a petrol station on the former Marricks Wire Ropes site, creating 250 jobs. About 30pc of the sales area would be for non-food goods.
Although Scott Properties has said it has not yet concluded a deal with any named supermarket, MWA’s report says the size of the store - slightly larger than North Walsham’’s Sainsbury’’s - indicated that they hoped to attract one of the big names.
North Walsham Town Council has voted 7-3, with two abstentions, not to object to the plan, subject to a string of conditions.
The MWA report, commissioned by North Norfolk District Council, scrutinised Scott Properties’’ Retail Impact Assessment of its proposal, and its planning statement.
It concluded that the assessment failed to show that the new store would not have a major impact on the town centre, adding: “In particular the cumulative impact, when taken in combination with the Waitrose store, would suppress trading levels within the town centre and the main food stores to unacceptable levels.
“The Sainsbury’s store would experience very dramatic reductions in turnover along with the Lidl supermarket, and both of these stores are important in maintaining and enhancing the vitality and viability of the town centre.””
Mair Stockdale, chairman of North Walsham Chamber of Trade, said her members were strongly opposed to the supermarket. She added: ”It would wipe out the town. It would be three times the size of Waitrose and they are going to stock all non-food items. It would take people out of the town and make it obsolete.””
Town councillors are calling on Norfolk County Council’s highways department to look again at the amount of extra traffic a new store would generate.
The department says the road network could cope but councillors believe they have not taken into account tourist attraction Davenport’s Magic Kingdom, now under construction next to the proposed site. They are also concerned about traffic turning right from the store into Cromer Road.
Among suggested conditions, town councillors want the developers to provide a free town-centre car park and set up a fund to help small businesses in the town. They, and MWA, also suggest limiting the store’s sales area to 3,623 sq m with no more than 1,087 sq m for non-food items.
MWA also believes the more central Lawns site at Paston College could have been considered but that idea has been dismissed by college principal Kevin Grieve.
The application will be considered by the district council’s development committee on March 14.