Update: Wells Co-op supermarket approved by councillors

Plans for a �3.75m Anglia Co-operative supermarket in Wells were this morning given the go-ahead by councillors.

North Norfolk District Council's (NNDC) development committee backed the scheme by 11 votes to 2.

The decision was in line with officers' recommendations to approve the Anglia Co_operative sceheme subject to a series of conditions which include seeing the company to contribute funding towards improved links between the proposed supermarket site, at Polka Road, and the town centre, subject to further discussions with the highways department.

An extra condition imposed today was to extend the planned two hour free dar parking limit to three in the hope it would encourage shoppers to explore the nearby main town centre.

Anglia Co-op's plans have polarised opinions in Wells.

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Wells Town Council had objected due to the impact the supermarket could have on other Wells traders but this morning it was revealed the council had a change of heart and were now supporting it - partly because of the prospects of the scheme delivering a new petrol station later.

Many Wells traders have voiced opposition and before the meeting Ivan Leftley, of Leftley's supermarket said he believed that Staithe Street, Wells's main shopping area, 'would resemble a boarded up ghost town' if the supermarket was built.

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Anglia Co-op claims, however, that it has a proven track record of successfully working alongside local traders without causing them harm and many Wells residents have voiced their support for the supermarket.

An officer's report to councillors referred to advice NNDC has received from an independent retail consultant.

The consultant states: 'The inevitable consequence of introducing a food store is that some trade diversion from existing businesses will occur.

'The practice guidance recognises that this is a truism but states that the assessment must be made having regard to the impact on the centre as a whole.

'We do not believe that the predicted impact would undermine the vitality and viability of the centre whose health is generally robust and exhibits a buoyancy often lacking in centres of a similar size.

'The predicted trade draw would in our view allow existing retailers to trade at above what would be regarded as viable, benchmark levels and we believe closure of shops is unlikely to occur.'

NNDC has received 83 responses from the public in favour of the Polka Road proposal and 33 opposed to it.

Anglia Co-op say the supermarket would create 49 full and part-time jobs in Wells, although opponents say jobs would be lost from other businesses in the town if the store is built.

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