More store wars as Norwich city councillors turn down bid for new city Sainsbury’s - despite warnings from their own officers

Residents and local councillors discussing the proposed Sainsbury store on Sprowston Road at a publi

Residents and local councillors discussing the proposed Sainsbury store on Sprowston Road at a public meeting in the Heath House pub. The site, currently Rush lighting.Photo: Steve Adams

Norwich city councillors have been caught up in 'store wars' once again, when an application for another supermarket in the city came before them and was rejected - despite warnings from their own officers.

Plans for a new Sainsbury's Local convenience store in Sprowston Road in Norwich, plus the demolition of the existing business and erection of two new flats, were recommended for approval by officers.

But after hearing objections at the meeting from people living nearby, most of the councillors said they wanted to turn down the plans at the site of Rush Lighting.

However, the councillors were told they had to come up with a reason to reject the proposals, and one which their officers thought had a chance to beat any future appeal from the applicant.

Officers warned that if the plans were refused, and should an appeal be successful, then it would cost the council money.

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They had advised councillors that by approving the plans, they could at least have the powers to impose conditions, rather than wait for a planning inspector at appeal to overturn their decision.

In a heated debate, councillor Sue Sands asked: 'What's the point of us being on the planning committee, if we cannot make changes, and we are going to get undercut by people saying that whatever we do, it will eventually be overturned?

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'I cannot think of any worse place to put a Sainsbury's. It's a dreadful place for parking.'

Fellow Labour councillor Ralph Gayton said traffic conditions at the junction were horrendous, and he predicted chaos in Denmark Road and Gertrude Roads, should it be approved.

And Green councillor Lesley Grahame said the local community had made its views clear. However, fellow Green councillor Paul Neale summed up their predicament, when he said: 'I don't want to grant it, but I'm grasping at straws to find a reason to turn it down.'

The debate was so vociferous and lasted so long, that one of the councillors said she was too tired to made a decision, so the meeting was adjourned for half an hour.

When it reconvened councillors turned down the plans, on the grounds that it would have a detrimental effect on the amenity of people in Gertrude Road.

Six voted to refuse the application, three not to refuse it, while two abstained.

Afterwards. applicant Roger Rush, who owns the building, said he was already considering appealing.

He said: 'I'm disappointed in the decision. I thought what we were doing would be the best for the majority of people living nearby.

'I thought they would be grateful and that it would enhance the area. At present it's a specialist shop, and customers come by car. Most of the people coming to a convenience store would be walking or cycling. I thought it would have been ideal.'

Nearby residents had objected on the grounds that it would have made an already dangerous junction even worse. A petition containing about 700 names against the plans was also handed to the council.

Gertrude Road resident Costas Bell raised fears about the extra traffic the store could generate, safety issues, and pressure on parking in the area, and said that residents' objections were being ignored.

He said: 'We are just expected to shut up, put up and sit with it.'

Another resident said developers were trying to 'shoehorn' a supermarket into a tight area, and the owner of the convenience stores opposite said it would put them out of business.

Sewell ward city councillors Kevin Barker and Jule Brociek-Colton, both Labour, had called for councillors to make a site visit to see the traffic for themselves, and said 31 people had written letters of objection.

• Do you think the right decision was made? Write to Norwich Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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