King’s Lynn Tesco scheme given the green light

Tesco has been given the green light for a multimillion pound regeneration project in King's Lynn it says could create more than 1,000 jobs for the area.

West Norfolk Council's development control board approved the planning application which would see a new and bigger Tesco store built on the former Campbells factory site to replace the one on Hardwick Road.

The plans could also see a new car showroom, hotels, pubs and restaurants as well as office space built on the site.

But opponents of the scheme said that by giving the Tesco plans the go-ahead, future investment in the town centre could be jeopardised.

Just days before yesterday's meeting it emerged that Irish property company Murdock Group, which owns the Vancouver Quarter in King's Lynn, is planning to spend millions extending the town centre shopping area.

Speaking on behalf of the Murdock Group after the meeting, planning consultant Mary Davidson said she was disappointed the decision had not been deferred so they could come forward with more information about their scheme.

'We are worried about the impact on the town centre. The quantity of retail space in the Tesco scheme is significant; therefore it's going to mean there will be an element of impact.'

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She said they would be moving forward with their proposals, but they would not know what sort of impact it would have until the scheme was up and running.

Martin Storey said he believed the decision should be deferred.

'We cannot rush to make the decision just become something doesn't look right at a particular time. The town centre is a very important part of King's Lynn.'

But Geoffrey Wareham said: 'We never heard a whisper until now, and now it's going to be next year. We've had nothing in writing yet they sit before us trying to recommend to us that we turn down an opportunity for hotels, pubs, restaurants. It doesn't make sense to me to be going on with a recommendation from the Murdock Group when we have nothing in writing.'

Trevor Manley added: 'I feel here we've got a chance to get rid of the Campbells site. I feel it's a good scheme.'

Under the approved plan some of the office space must be ready before the replacement store opens.

Tesco must also contribute �350,000 towards the cost of a footbridge over the railway line to the South Lynn development and provide a bus service to the town centre.

It must also pay �830,000 to help the town centre, including improvements to the bus station, promotion of the town centre and enhancements to Saturday and Tuesday markets.

Development control board chairman Vivianne Spikings said: 'As far as I'm concerned we are dealing with what is in front of us. It is very important that we do not defer this. There are jobs at stake, there's development at stake.'

Tesco corporate affairs manager Michael Kissman was delighted with the decision and said it would be regenerating a derelict site.

But speaking during public questions West Norfolk resident Joe Orsi said he had been misled during a consultation at the Tesco store as he had been given the impression the Campbells Tower would be kept.

But Tesco's corporate affairs manager said: 'There was no ambiguity at all about what we are proposing.'

Around 203 full-time equivalent jobs will be provided by Tesco over and above the 320 people working in the Hardwick Road Tesco store.

Tesco said the Campbell's site had attracted interest from businesses including Marstons and the Downham Fryer and national hotel chains.