Poll: Fears new Next store could harm Norwich city centre

An artist's impression of the Next Home and Garden store planned for Costessey.

An artist's impression of the Next Home and Garden store planned for Costessey. - Credit: Archant

A proposed £6m superstore on the outskirts of Norwich has set two councils at loggerheads over whether it would set a precedent and harm the city centre by luring away shoppers.

Officers at Norwich City Council have objected to Next's application for a Home and Garden Store near the Longwater Retail Park in Costessey - a store which would sell clothes as well as kitchens, bathrooms, carpets, DIY products and gardening equipment.

City Hall officers say that if South Norfolk Council's planning committee gives the 6,663 sq m store permission that will set a precedent which could see more stores at Longwater look to move away from selling 'bulky goods' and compete directly with the city centre.

Graham Nelson, head of planning at City Hall said: 'Norwich City Council considers that to allow a retail destination of this form and function to establish, in direct conflict with the retail strategy lawfully adopted by Norwich city, Broadland and South Norfolk councils will set a wider precedent for out-of-centre retail development, including variation of condition applications on other warehouse retail parks in the Norwich policy area.'

The city council had suggested that other Norwich sites would have been better for the store, They had suggested an empty unit close to the B&Q in Hall Road or at Anglia Square.

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But Next has rejected those for a number of reasons, including that existing policies state those sites must focus on a convenience food store, which is not what they are planning.

And officers at South Norfolk Council are recommending that district councillors grant the new Next store - proposed for land to the north-east of the roundabout junction of the A47 William Frost Way and the A1074 Dereham Road - permission at a meeting next week.

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South Norfolk Council brought in consultants to look at the impact of the store, which would include a coffee shop and a garden centre, on Norwich city centre.

Those consultants concluded the new store would not have a 'significant adverse impact' on the city centre.

And planning officer Chris Trett, in his report to councillors, which recommends approval, said: 'The development cannot set a precedent because any future proposals will be considered on their own impact and sequential merits and in the light of any cumulative impact.'

Next has said that 156 new jobs would be created at the new store, on top of the 47 staff who would move from the current Next Home store on the Longwater Retail Park, which would close if permission is granted for the new one.

Costessey Parish Council had initially objected to the store, raising concern over traffic, but subsequently voted by a 'narrow margin' to withdraw their objection.

That withdrawal came after Next agreed to pay for traffic calming along West End in Costessey and to a scheme with extra lanes leading to and from the site.

South Norfolk Council's development management committee will make a decision on whether to give the store permission when it meets on Wednesday.

• What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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