New Waitrose for North Walsham hits delay

The opening of north Norfolk's first Waitrose supermarket, expected in October, has been delayed for legal reasons.

Shoppers will not now be able to visit the North Walsham store, due to open in the former Focus DIY store, on Cromer Road, until November at the earliest.

The news coincides with the formal submission by another developer of an application for full planning permission to build a supermarket, plus a petrol station, further south on Cromer Road.

The Scott Properties application is currently being 'validated' by North Norfolk District Council and should be made public in the next few days.

A spokesman for Waitrose said its delay was due to a 12-week judicial review period, which began when the store was granted change of use permission for the site by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) on June 29.

Waitrose was waiting for the period to elapse before starting conversion work in case a legal challenge was made to the consent, which could create complications.

'This is quite normal and just part and parcel of the planning process,' said the spokesman.

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'We certainly want to open as soon as possible. Our target would now be November rather than December.

'Christmas is our busiest period and we try to avoid store openings in December.'

He hoped to have a timetable for the work and recruitment process in the next two weeks. The 2,885m sq store is expected to create up to 150 jobs.

An NNDC spokesman said there had been no legal challenges to date. He added: 'There was a suggestion that Tesco may put in a challenge but nothing has been received so far.'

James Tucker, director of Scott Properties, said his firm's application was 'largely unchanged' from the information given at a public consultation in March.

The firm was in talks with 'major food retailers, with the exception of Sainsbury's' but no decision had been made about which store would move in if permission was granted.

Scott Properties hopes to build a store up to 45,000 sq ft - which would be a little larger than the town's Bacton Road Sainsbury's - on the former Marricks wire ropes site, creating up to 250 jobs.

Following discussions with neighbours, Mr Tucker said parking nearest the boundary with Suffield Close had been removed and replaced with an extended area of landscaping.

The plans had also been revised after talks with Norfolk County Council's highways department about the Bradfield/Link Road which would now remain open to traffic under the proposals.

Developers Petros/Hartfield, who were in talks with Tesco earlier this year to build a supermarket, creating up to 200 jobs, somewhere on the town's Midland Road, were unavailable for comment.

Both Petros and Sainsbury's lodged objections to Waitrose's application and threatened legal action if the plan was approved.

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