By Martin George
Thursday, December 6, 2012
A family jewellery shop that has traded in Swaffham for more than 30 years has blamed the town council for its decision to relocate to Downham Market.
The Jewellery Workshop at 1 Pit Lane, which faces onto the town’s Market Place, last week received planning permission to change its premises from a retail shop with living accommodation to a private dwelling.
Town councillors had formally objected to the loss of the retail unit because of its prime location, but Breckland Council planning officers who granted permission on November 28 decided the proposal “would have a negligible impact on the viability and vitality of the town centre”.
Responding to the town council’s comments, Vaughan Parker of the Jewellery Workshop’s said the council had made decisions that harmed his business, prompting his decision to leave the town.
He wrote: “There has been numerous occasions when the council has not helped our plight in maintaining a thriving family business.
“The decision to allow the erection of an large auction marquee in front of our shop and previously an excessively large Christmas tree has been very unwelcome. “I question the motives of the council if they are to maintain a busy market town during these difficult times and for these reasons have decided to relocate the business in Downham Market where things are substantially better for small independent retail shops.”
Town clerk Richard Bishop described Mr Parker’s comments as “disappointing”, and said they referred to a long-running dispute about a marquee placed near his shop when the town’s auction was re-established, but not used since the auction started to be held in the open.
Mr Bishop said: “The emergence of the business forum over the past couple of years has been a really good thing for the town and supported by the Iceni Partnership, the town council and the Advance Swaffham Action Group.
“All of them have been working together in their own way to make things better for Swaffham, and business comes into that mix.”
The Gem Shop, which is close to the Jewellery Workshop, is unaffected.