Supermarket sweep of Norwich leads to call for moratorium on new superstores
- Credit: PA
Given the way supermarket chains have sprung up around Norwich in the last decade, two recent decisions came as something of a surprise.
Sainsbury's pulled the plug on its planned store in Sprowston Road, citing 'commercial reasons' and Lidl saw its application for a new store in Bishop Bridge Road rejected by members of Norwich City Council.
Recent years have seen Tesco and Sainsbury's expand from superstores into smaller convenience stores.
So the latter's decision to pull out of such a store was a surprising u-turn, especially with the likes of Lidl and Aldi - and M&S's new Simply Food stores such as those at Longwater and Sweet Briar Retail Park - putting pressure on the longer-established names.
Lidl bosses were left disappointed when their Bishop Bridge Road store plans were dashed, although their counterparts at Aldi, who have a store in Plumtsead Road, were rather happier, having objected to the store.
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Councillors rejected the proposal because the land had been allocated in the local plan for homes, not retail.
But Lidl has other irons in the fire. Morrisons announced it was closing 11 stores last year and has scrapped its plans for a store in Hall Road, next to B&Q. Lidl is looking to open there instead.
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If that happens, and Aldi builds the store it has permission for at Hall Road Retail Park then, with Asda having opened in Hall Road, it would see three superstores within less than a mile.
Lidl is also eyeing the Goff Petroleum site at Aylsham Road, where Morrisons had been granted permission for a store.
And Nigel Dowdney, director of the Association of Convenience Stores who runs Earlham Shopper and Stalhsam Shopper said enough is enough.
He said: 'I think there should be a moratorium on superstore applications until the economy improves. These stores aren't bringing any more money into the city, they are just moving it around.
'I think the likes of Aldi and Lidl have more impact on the bigger supermarkets, but it does have an effect on convenience stores.
'The great threat to us is that customers find them easy to get to. But customers will never get the sort of relationships they get with us at those stores.'
But what sort of impact do the superstores around Norwich's fringes have on the city centre?
Stefan Gurney, executive director of the Norwich Business Improvement District, said he believed they complemented what shoppers can find on the city's historic streets.
He said: 'Heading into the city centre is a very different proposition to heading into the supermarket.
'It's the comparison shopping, the restaurants, bars and coffee shops and the cultural offering which brings people into the city.
'I think its two different offerings and we need both for the city to be vibrant.'
Work yet to start on Taverham superstore
It is two years this week since permission was granted for a new superstore in Taverham - yet the land still stands empty.
The site, at Taverham Nursery Centre on Fir Covert Road, was given permission in June 2014 to be transformed into a 45,000sq ft supermarket, a 12 pump filling station and a 'lifestyle leisure unit', with a cookery school, offices and shops, and a new restaurant.
Developers Scott Properties said at the time that the development would bring more business to the existing garden centre, together with hundreds of new jobs for the area, but work on the site has yet to start.
We contacted the developer to ask for an update, but they did not respond to our request.
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