Cromer store wars to step up pace as Lidl plan set for approval

A cut-price supermarket on the edge of Cromer is set to get the go-ahead - despite a couple of glitches about bats and bushes.

But campaigners wanting a footbridge alongside a dangerous stretch of road as part of the planning deal look likely to be disappointed.

North Norfolk District Council's planners are recommending approval of the Holt Road Lidl store when the development committee meets on Thursday.

The recommendation comes with the proviso that the council will get some answers from Lidl about why it has not carried out a promised bat survey.

And officers will also be looking for improvements to the proposed landscaping, with more and higher plants wanted to screen the development.

The German firm is set to add to fierce competition in Cromer by developing the 1,063sq m store.

The development would replace the existing BP filling station and carwash, Spar store and Subway sandwich outlet. It would comprise a small replacement Subway.

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But, despite a number of objections from people concerned at the loss of the filling station - which would leave just two in the town - council officers said the others might be able to 'adapt and improve their facilities' to meet rising demand.

If approved, it would be another Cromer supermarket to add to Morrisons and Co-op on Holt Road, plus Budgens and Iceland in the town centre.

In a report to Thursday's meeting, members will be told two other sites in the Louden Road area had been considered but they were not 'available, suitable or viable'.

The report said any impact on Budgens, Iceland and smaller town centre shops was 'unlikely to be unduly damaging' because they catered for 'top-up shopping by people already in the town centre'.

It added: 'The impact would fall to a greater extent on out-of-centre stores such as Co-op and Morrisons.'

Campaigners were hoping a section 106 agreement would force Lidl to fund a footbridge on the A148 where it crosses the Sheringham to Norwich railway line. At the moment, people living south of the crossing have to walk on the busy road to get to the town on foot.

The report said Lidl was happy to provide a pedestrian crossing over the A148 next to the planned store, but added: 'The applicants contend that the increase in pedestrian and traffic flows would be so low that to request S106 money to fund a footbridge over the railway line would be unjustified.'

Lidl also rejected a request from Cromer Town Council that it provide money for town allotments.

But the firm said it had been approached to provide bulbs for planting on the grass verge on Holt Road and would 'look to provide a contribution for this'.

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