Traders anger over Stalham Tesco plans

New plans for a seasonal marquee selling garden equipment and other summer 'essentials' to be put up in the car park of a north Norfolk supermarket have raised fears about trade being taken away from nearby businesses.

Bosses of the Tesco supermarket in Stalham have submitted a planning application to North Norfolk District Council requesting permission for a seasonal marquee for the sale of garden equipment, which could be sited on their car park from March 1 to October 31 each year, although a spokesman for the store said it would be taken down at the end of August.

They also said the marquee will take around six of the current car parking spaces at the store and that it was not intended to take trade away from the high street, but would sell products many of their customers had asked for. The Stalham store opened in 2002 amid much controversy over fears on how it would affect the high street trade in the town.

And the new plans have sparked similar fears from businesses.

Graham Makepeace, one of the owners of Sutton Garden and Aquatic Centre which is close to the town, said: 'During the season, gardening goods are already sold in the store itself, now they are going to put stuff outside, where does it all end? It will not do us or the town any good.'

Nigel Dowdney, who runs the Stalham Shopper in the High Street and is chairman of Buy Local, an organisation set up to encourage the promotion of local business within the community, said: 'I am very much against this, they should concentrate on running the store.'

The plans were discussed at a meeting of Stalham Town Council and councillors voted to object to the plans.

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Barry Mobbs, chairman of the council, said: 'We objected on planning grounds because the original planning permission for the store we believe required a certain number of car parking spaces and the marquee would be unsightly.'

A spokesman for Tesco spokesman said however that the application for a temporary marquee on the site meets all the requirements laid out by planning officers.

They added: 'We have applied to the council to put up a temporary marquee in the car park of our Stalham store to allow us to sell summer promotions. 'This is something we have trialled successfully at our stores in other seaside towns around the country, but it's the first time we'll have done it in Stalham. It will sell seaside toys, inflatables, some clothing and household goods. Many customers have told us they want to buy these items during the summer months and the marquee will help allow us to do that.'

Speaking about plans which have been mooted by Tesco bosses in the past to expand the size of the store, the spokesman said there were no changes planned at the moment.

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