Victory for campaigners as planning inspector dismisses bid for new shops in Diss

Thatcher's Needle on Park Road in Diss. Picture: Kate Royall

Thatcher's Needle on Park Road in Diss. Picture: Kate Royall - Credit: Archant

Heritage campaigners and small traders are celebrating after a bid to build four large shops in Diss was dismissed by a planning inspector.

Pub firm Marston's appealed South Norfolk Council's rejection in March of its bid to build the warehouse-style shops behind the Thatcher's Needle pub, on Park Road.

But planning inspector Amanda Blicq has now upheld the council's decision.

Peter Hyde, acting chairman of the Diss Heritage Triangle Trust, hailed the decision as a victory for common sense.

Mr Hyde said the shops would have taken business away from the town centre.

He said: 'Speaking on behalf of the traders, I think we're all relieved that it was dismissed and we look forward to something else coming along that's more in character with the town, and would be an enhancement rather than unfair competition.


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'We already have three large supermarkets down the southern end of town, so more retail development would hardly encourage people to visit the town centre, let alone the top of the town where a lot of independent traders are to be found.'

Hr Hyde said the result was thanks to the co-operation between the Heritage Triangle Team, the Triangle Trust, the town council, traders' group and individuals.

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He said: 'A few years ago the result would probably been quite different, because then we did not have any of the above mentioned groups.

'(This) result shows what can be achieved by working together with a common goal, and outlines the importance of having all those involved with the triangle becoming members of the heritage trust.'

In her report, Ms Blicq said the planned units would have had a detrimental effect on the area and nearby trees, saying: 'In comparison with the Thatcher's Needle, the units would appear disproportionately large and dominant on the site.'

Ms Blicq's report went onto say the units: 'Would block the existing visual link between the Waveney valley and Park Field and consequently the development would fail to reflect the historic visual and functional links that previously connected Park Field to the River Waveney.'

A design and access statement submitted for Marston's said the buildings would have been 'contemporary' and 'complementary to the locality'.

The Marston's statement said the units would have been 'sustainable location for retail provision'.

The full planning inspector's report can be read online at acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk and searching for APP/L2630/W/16/3150673.

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