Dereham market trader in council battle over warehouse sales

CC Wells warehouse on Greens Road Industrial Estate, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

CC Wells warehouse on Greens Road Industrial Estate, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A fruit and vegetable trader in Dereham could be stopped from selling produce to the public from the company's warehouse amid concerns that it is having an adverse affect on other town centre businesses.

CC Wells market stall in Dereham's town centre. Picture: Ian Burt

CC Wells market stall in Dereham's town centre. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

CC Wells, who run market stalls across Norfolk including in Dereham on a Tuesday, has also been selling 'modest' amounts of produce to the public along with wholesale from its warehouse on the Greens Road Industrial Estate.

A certificate of lawfulness for the sale of fruit and veg to the general public was refused earlier this year by Breckland Council as the authority was not convinced that the unit had been used for retail for a continuous period of 10 years and sales had not been of a scale and consistency to amount to a change of use.

As a result CC Wells have applied for retrospective permission for mixed use for storage, wholesale and retail sale of fresh fruit and vegetables.

A report to the planning committee, which meets on Monday, recommends refusal.

It highlights its policy which protects general employment areas for employment use 'to ensure proposals do not undermine town centre vitality or pose a threat to existing employment enterprises'. It says the proposed retail sale element is identified as a main town centre use and there are suitable sites within the town centre for A1 retail uses.

In its application CC Wells points out that its 'modest retail sales ... is a practical way of offering a better extended service to customers from existing premises'.

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It adds: 'Retail from Greens Road does not take business away from the market in the town centre. Loyal customers would still visit the stall on Tuesdays and the warehouse on other days. Other than the supermarkets, aside from market days, there is no alternative independent supplier of fresh fruit and veg in the town centre. There is the added convenience of not having to carry bulkier purchases large distances through the town centre.'

The council has received over 200 letters of support from customers, including a 200-plus name petition.

Five letters of objection have been received citing concerns of taking trade away from the town centre and market, health and safety and the business not paying correct business rates.

The town council has also expressed its opinion that change of use to retail should not be permitted but sales allowed as an ancillary use with conditions.

Its letter to planners says: 'Once the principle of retail had been established it would be difficult to object to further applications for retail use in this area.

'The ancillary use should be normalised in such a way that it does not allow for a change of use.'

* What do you think? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk

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