Tesco confirms interest in Midland Road, North Walsham, site as Waitrose announces “overwhelming” support for its planned Cromer Road, North Walsham, store

Tesco has confirmed that it is interested in opening a supermarket in North Walsham.

The news came after developers last week shocked the town with plans to pursue a store project on Midland Road.

But this week it also emerged there does not yet appear to be a definite site for a store, with some Midland Road businesses saying they have not been approached, one refusing to sell and others waiting for more information.

The Tesco revelation coincides with Waitrose's announcement that the 'overwhelming' majority of nearly 700 visitors to their public exhibition supported plans for a Waitrose store on the town's Cromer Road, creating 150 jobs.

A Tesco spokesman told the News this week that they were 'interested' in Midland Road. She said: 'We are one of the operators who have been in talks with the developers, but nothing has been agreed at this stage.'

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However, a separate statement from the developers on Tuesday confirmed that they are only talking to a single supermarket.

A spokesman for the property firm, Petros and Hartfield Developments, said: 'We are in serious discussions with one major retailer and hope to make an announcement shortly; we are determined to get the best option for this important site.'

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The Midland Road scheme would create up to 200 jobs and include investment in town centre improvements.

They stress their site would be closer to the town centre than Waitrose's plan to convert the former Focus DIY store.

Andrea Canham, secretary of 1st North Walsham Scouts, whose headquarters and surrounding land are at the northern end of Midland Road, said she had been phoned out-of-the-blue by the developers recently while she was dishing up tea to her family.

They had said they would be back in touch with more details and to arrange a meeting.

The scouts are fund-raising to build a new base but chairman Chris Hargest said any decision to sell would probably have to be taken by the church which is understood to have gifted the land to the scouts.

Nick Hindle, at nearby Perfitt and Paynes stonemasons, said they and neighbouring Jackson and Starling funeral directors had had an initial approach from the developers. Any decision would be made by the Rackham family which owned both businesses, said Mr Hindle.

Nigel Horner-Glister, has said he had made a 'clear refusal' of the developers' offer for the former Horners' auction site and buildings.

At Roger Hannant Motor Services spokesman Peter Bygraves said: 'As yet we know nothing about it.' Mark Jackson, a business partner with Andrew Kerry in Kerry's Flooring, said: 'I certainly haven't heard anything and neither has my colleague Andrew. They have not approached us.

'I would think they would have problems here with access to the road,' he added.

And at the southern end of the road Peter Spence, owner of JDT door suppliers, said: 'We haven't been approached.'

Waitrose hopes to submit a planning application for its 21,000 sq ft store by the end of the month.

A total of 693 people attended last week's two-day public exhibition in the town on the scheme. To date 625 comment forms had been returned of which 602 had indicated outright support for the proposals, and 23 support with reservations, said a spokesman.

The project team was currently assessing the feedback received and would then submit an application. If successful, Waitrose aimed to start the eight-week programme to convert the store in late summer and open in October.

James Gilhooley, Waitrose head of property, said: 'We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the feedback we have received, which suggests there is genuine excitement about Waitrose coming to North Walsham.'

He added: 'It is in our shared interests to create a vibrant town centre where local trade can flourish and we believe this would be a great opportunity to bring more shoppers to North Walsham.'

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