Poll: Will new North Walsham supermarket push town centre into ‘serious decline’?

A 'huge' new supermarket on the edge of North Walsham could sound the death knell for the town centre, traders have warned.

Mair Stockdale, chairman of North Walsham Chamber of Trade, said the size of the proposed store, on the old Marrick's Wire Ropes site, and the range of goods it proposed to sell were a cause of 'very serious concern' to her members.

Mrs Stockdale was addressing Tuesday's meeting of North Walsham Town Council's planning committee, who have yet to decide whether or not to support developers Scott Properties' application for a store and petrol filling station on Cromer Road.

The firm has said it was in discussion with a number of national chains about the site, but had not yet concluded any deal.

Geoff Lyon, planning officer with North Norfolk District Council, told the meeting that, at a total of 5,574sq m, the supermarket would be one of the biggest in north Norfolk.

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The sales area would comprise just over 3,500sq m, of which about 2,500sq m would be allocated to groceries and about 1,000sq m to items such as kettles and TVs.

The site is about 200 yards nearer the town centre along Cromer Road than the Waitrose store which is due to open in the former Focus DIY building on November 29.

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Mrs Stockdale said a small Waitrose selling food was one thing but a supermarket three times the size selling a range of goods was 'another kettle of fish entirely.'

North Walsham town centre was already suffering from a decline in footfall. Chamber members anticipated that the only Waitrose in north Norfolk would draw people from a wide area. But if the Scott store opened, there would be no incentive for shoppers to go into North Walsham as they would buy anything they could not find at Waitrose in the neighbouring supermarket.

'There is a very real fear in the chamber that if this happens the town will go into a serious decline,' said Mrs Stockdale.

Mr Lyon said consultants had been appointed to see whether there were any sites nearer the town centre, and what the retail impact of the development would be. The town council agreed to defer discussion until they knew the result of the consultants' assessments.

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