Plans for superstore in Taverham scrapped after three years of no buyers being found

Taverham Nursery in Fir Covert Road. Photo: Bill Smith

Taverham Nursery in Fir Covert Road. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

Plans for a superstore in Taverham which prompted a legal challenge from Norwich City Council are being scrapped three years after permission was granted for the build.

The proposed development on land near Taverham Nursery Centre was given the green light by Broadland District Council in January 2014 but was then subject to a legal challenge by the city council - which argued it was not an area identified for retail growth and that there were 'defects in the decision making process'.

Norwich had argued that the retail use should have been kept in the city centre rather than a competing peripheral centre, but councillors in Broadland voted it through unanimously.

Since then the land has lain vacant, and the three year deadline to start work in the original planning permission expired last month.

The developers have since written to Broadland to seek a screening opinion ahead of submitted revised plans.

Richard Martin, associate director of Scott Properties, said the market for large superstores had 'fallen off quite drastically' since planning permission was granted for the site but they were working to progress development as fast as possible.

'The site is still allocated for retail but the retail market has changed quite a lot since 2014,' he said.

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'There aren't many takers for a superstore at the moment. We are working up a revised application to go on to do something which is more market facing.

'It is still very much a live project for us.'

Under the revised scheme, it is expected Scott Properties will seek to build two smaller retail units in place of the superstore.

A petrol filling station planned in the original application will be scrapped, and a fast food outlet built in its place. A public house or restaurant, and lifestyle leisure unit, will remain.

When Broadland's planning committee approved the scheme, the city council was accused of 'interfering'.

'We have a responsibility to create economic development and facilities for the people of Broadland,' said Cllr Roger Foulger.

'This is an unwarranted interference from Norwich City Council. They make it difficult for people to use facilities in the city through things like increased parking charges and they rely on the people of Broadland to shop in the city.'

Norwich is now 'saturated' with supermarkets

Nigel Dowdney, director of the Association of Convenience Stores who runs Earlham Shopper and Stalham Shopper, called for a moratorium on new supermarkets last year.

He said the city has now reached a point where it is 'saturated' with supermarkets and the time has come to look at using some of the land the larger companies have accrued in different ways.

He said: 'Norwich is definitely saturated [with supermarkets].

'The power they have managed to wield means they easily get over planning objections and there has to be a point where there is not enough money in the local economy to justify it.

'Independents have suffered a huge amount of damage and you get to a point where supermarkets begin to encroach on each other.

'It will be interesting to see if people like Tesco will now start to look at all the land banks they have built up over the years and are sitting on.

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