June 18 2013 Latest news:
By Tracey Gray, Reporter
Thursday, June 28, 2012
D-day is looming as planners get set tomorrow to decide whether to allow a supermarket giant to open a store on the edge of North Walsham.
Councillors have a make-or-break decision over the Waitrose bid to convert the former Focus DIY unit on Cromer Road into a store, creating up to 150 jobs.
Two applications - one to change the use of the building and the other for signage and additional car parking - were submitted to North Norfolk District Council in March and will be looked at by the council’s development control committee.
If given the go ahead the 2,885m sq store would sell 17,000 product lines and contain meat, fish, deli and patisserie counters. There would also be a cafe area for shoppers to buy a sandwich and a drink.
The application also asks for 154 parking spaces and 10 stainless steel cycle hoops.
But there are fears there will still be insufficient parking space and, despite proposals by Waitrose to create bus stops and a pedestrian refuge on Cromer Road, the Highways Agency said the 40mph limit road was “inappropriate” for people with shopping to be crossing.
Supermarket firm Lidl, which has recently held discussions with NNDC and will shortly be submitting a planning application to extend its existing town centre store on Yarmouth Road, said it did not object to the Waitrose proposal in principle but said it would reiterate the importance of “maintaining the vitality and viability of North Walsham town centre”.
The situation is further complicated by Scott Properties, which is interested in developing a superstore and petrol station on the former Marricks Wire Ropes site on Cromer Road, and has urged the council to consider the Waitrose application alongside at the same time as its own plan “to fully understand the cumulative impact and maximize the collective benefits to the residents of North Walsham and outlying communities”.
In planning documents officers say, along with Waitrose, they looked at a number of other sites where the development could be placed, including the former HL Foods site in Norwich Road.
The officers add that a retail report submitted by Waitrose “does not adequately explain why the former HL Foods site should not be preferred given that this could arguably be judged to be better connected with the town centre than the former Focus DIY building”.