North Walsham independent shop saved as vital plan passed

House of Hobbies at North Walsham with owners Julie Cameron (left) and Sharon Humphrey. Picture: CHR

House of Hobbies at North Walsham with owners Julie Cameron (left) and Sharon Humphrey. Picture: CHRIS TIMMS, PHOTOWORX - Credit: Archant

One of North Walsham's proud independent shops has been saved after planners approved a radical application to change its layout.

The House of Hobbies will lose half its retail space and five flats will be incorporated into the historic Market Place building as part of the application approved by North Norfolk District Council.

Business owners Julie Cameron and Sharon Humphrey said they were 'very pleased and relieved' at the decision.

They had warned that, without the changes, they would have to close because of escalating overheads, including a 'crippling' rates bill of £768 a month.

Mrs Cameron said they had not yet signed final paperwork with developers Divine Lettings, which submitted the application, but it was 'all looking good'.

They were also waiting to hear how much cheaper their rates, calculated on floor space, would be following the changes.

'It will cut our heating bills too and be much cosier in here,' said Mrs Cameron.

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The shop, now in its 20th year, would still sell haberdashery and fabrics, and their coffee shop and clothes alterations service would also continue.

'We want to cram in as much as possible so that we don't disappoint our customers. They've been so supportive,' she added.

'I still get emotional thinking about it. They're really thrilled for us. It's what we wanted to happen - we can carry on.'

She expected the business to be closed for one or two days at the end of February while the shop changes were put in place.

Nick Lee, chairman of North Walsham Chamber for Business, said he was pleased that the approved changes meant the shop would be able to carry on trading.

'It's important that we keep shops in the town and that they can make it work for themselves,' he added.

'Traditionally, there have always been shops with offices or residential accommodation above, so there's not much change there.'