Exclusive by Tom Bristow
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Objectors have forced a supermarket giant to go back to the drawing board in its bid to build a new store in the north of the city.
Morrisons hopes to construct the store, which they say would create 250 jobs, on the site of Goff Petroleum off 293 Aylsham Road.
The supermarket carried out a consultation and put in a planning application, with the site owners, in November.
But in a surprise move the development has now been withdrawn and will be changed following concerns raised in consultations by English Heritage and a host of public groups.
A Morrisons source said the supermarket chain decided to withdraw the application for the 20,000 sq ft store rather than rejigging it because English Heritage had raised its concerns late on in the planning process.
But criticism of the plans also came from Norwich City Council officers, the Environment Agency and Anglian Water.
One objector said: “This would be a suitable design for an urban ring road but not for this site.”
A letter to the city council from David Eve, of English Heritage, said the planning application made “no positive contribution” to the area’s appearance, which includes St Catherine’s Church.
Mr Eve added: “Structures visible from the street are not of appropriate design and do not relate positively to the street or church.”
He recommended putting the building closer to Aylsham Road and moving the car park, which would have space for 206 vehicles, further back - a suggestion which was backed by civic watchdog the Norwich Society.
Mr Eve also called for a green space to be built between the road and store.
A city council tree protection officer said 46 trees would have to be cut down for the development and they should all be replaced - something which is not included in the first set of plans.
Tim Mellors, the city council’s landscape and cycling officer, described pedestrian and bicycle access to the site as “ill-considered” and claimed there was an “overemphasis” on cars.
Meanwhile, the city council’s environmental protection officer, Tony Shearman, warned the building was “very close” to homes and was “likely to be intrusive”.
Concerns were also raised by shopkeepers in the area.
One landlord of a shop on Aylsham Crescent said the area was already well-served by food stores and warned of an increase in traffic and lorries along Aylsham Road.
Objections were also made the Environment Agency, which argued the drainage system was not good enough and there would therefore be an increased flood risk.
The agency also warned that no development should take place until the site had been decontaminated and pollution from the fuel depot removed from the site’s ground water.
Morrisons will now draw up a new application before submitting it, although it said it did not know how long it might take.
Tim Mills from Goff Petroleum said: “Following discussion with key stakeholders, including English Heritage, several issues have emerged.
“In light of this feedback, Goff Petroleum has decided to withdraw the application. A revised application that addresses the concerns raised will be submitted shortly following discussions with Norwich City Council.”
When the Evening News revealed the plans in October, Michael Goff, whose family has owned the land since the 1880s said the site was no longer suitable for fuel distribution.
The company is moving its Norwich workforce to its Wymondham base and will lease the four-acre site to Morrisons.
Michael van den Berg from Morrisons said the store would offer more choice for shoppers and said a poll conducted at a public exhibition at St Catherine’s Church in October last year showed 83pc of people backed plans to regenerate the brownfield site.
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