They’re back: Asda resubmits plans for Norwich superstore
09:29 13 October 2012
Asda’s resubmitted application contains rebuttals of various concerns raised by the planning committee.
Size of store - Asda says that the proposed store is appropriate considering other similar district centres, and as a site capable of competing with out-of-town facilities. The business, community and leisure uses of the site comply with Norwich’s local plan.
Car parking and design - The 334-space car park was the “optimal design solution” and made the most efficient use of space for a development suitable as a district centre, said Asda. The design used the landscape of the site to determine the orientation of the buildings.
Sustainable transport access - A second set of doors to Asda from Hall Road would have required “cluttered environment” of steps and ramps, and may have stopped customers passing the other shop units.
Loss of trees - The plans include the planting of new trees throughout the site to attract native wildlife, with landscaped areas on two corners, something which Asda says outweighs the loss of protected trees on site.
Plans for a £122m Asda superstore development in Norwich are back on the table.
The supermarket chain has resubmitted a proposal for the former Bally Shoe factory site near Tuckswood, identical to that rejected by Norwich City Council’s planning committee just three weeks ago.
The application was refused by five votes to four, though two Labour members who could have swung the vote were missing from the meeting.
Asda said it was returning with unchanged proposals because of the public support for the development, which included a Norwich Evening News poll showing that 79pc of nearly 1,000 readers thought the committee had got the decision wrong.
In the wake of the committee’s decision to refuse permission, city council leader Brenda Arthur lamented the loss of up to 400 jobs the development would have created.
The plans are for a 5,796 sq m superstore, gym, pub, community centre, 334-space car park and other shops at the derelict site on Hall Road, and could be voted on before Christmas.
Councillors had expressed concerns at several aspects of the application, despite their officers’ recommendation to approve the plans on the grounds that the economic benefits outweighed the negatives.
The four Green party councillors and a Liberal Democrat who voted against the plans said the store was too dominant for a district centre, would lead to the loss of trees, was not accessible enough to pedestrians and cyclists and had an excessively large car park – concerns which Asda rejected in the cover letter to its second application (see panel).
Claire Stephenson, leader of the Green group on Norwich City Council, said accepting the plans a second time around would be “a wasted opportunity for Norwich”.
She said: “Asda has behaved disgracefully by resubmitting an identical application.
“I’m very disappointed that the council couldn’t do better for Norwich.
“It appears that Asda have got the message that Labour councillors will vote for anything that is put in, and therefore they have realised they don’t need to improve the application.”
Green councillors had argued that the development should include new homes, as early versions of the plans had done.
Ms Stephenson added: “If this application is passed, Labour councillors will have thrown away improvements which could have included 200 homes, better access for pedestrians and cyclists and better biodiversity. I think that’s a great shame and a wasted opportunity.”
She said that she trusted her councillors to vote for the best option for Norwich, and insisted they would make the decision based on the evidence in front of them.
“I’m surprised they didn’t put in a better application in the first place and it is a shame the city is going to end up with not having an improved application,” she said.
Philip Bartram, ASDA senior property communications manager, said the supermarket had been “surprised and somewhat disappointed” at the committee’s decision in September, given officers’ recommendations and public opinion.
“As a result of this, and after careful consideration, we have decided to resubmit the proposal and now await the outcome of the planning process,” he said.
“The public reaction to the decision taken by the planning committee was substantial and played a role in the decision-making process regarding the resubmission.
“The vast majority of comments and feedback from the public, which were highlighted in the media, were clearly in favour of the proposals and we believe reflect the fact that this is a development people want to see take shape.”
Mr Bartram said feedback from the committee and the public were considered before the plans were resubmitted, but that Asda stood by the original proposals “which we believe deliver the best possible mix of uses for the site.”