Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Multi-pronged plans to revitalise the heart of North Walsham are being dusted off, now that the “threat” of a large out-of-town supermarket has disappeared.
Developers behind a proposed store and petrol station on Cromer Road will not appeal against planning refusal.
Scott Properties were refused permission for their plan, on the old Marricks Wire Ropes site, in January this year and officially had until July 29 to lodge an appeal.
But Martin Scott, the firm’s managing director, said this week: “We aren’t going to appeal as the retailers who wanted the store have now re-assessed their target towns and no longer have a requirement in North Walsham.”
Eric Seaward, town, district and county councillor for North Walsham, said the threat that the supermarket might get the eventual go-ahead had meant Leadership of Place rejuvenation plans for the town – first mooted in 2011 – had been put on ice.
A retail consultant commissioned by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) had concluded that the store, coupled with the nearby Waitrose, would take away nearly half the town centre’s trade. If the plan had been approved, Mr Seaward said NNDC would have fought to get as much mitigation money as possible from Scott Properties to counteract the store’s impact.
Now, original plans for the centre can be kick-started.
■ changing the free half-hour 90-deg parking slots in Market Place to a chevron design to reduce the risk of accidents. The move would lead to the loss of about six spaces but town chiefs are hopeful NNDC will provide matching free half-hour spaces in New Road or Bank Loke car park.
■ widening Market Street pavements on the Waterloo Stores side to make the vista more attractive, and to narrow the roadway, discouraging vehicles from creating a hazard by queuing for parking spaces;
■ identifying a site for a two-bus layby to prevent buses having to queue in Market Place and Yarmouth Road while waiting for connecting services. The Market Place stop would stay. A study is under way examining the area between the Post Office/Royal Mail building and existing bus stop on Yarmouth Road.
County, district and town councils are contributing to the schemes and are consulting with bodies including North Walsham Chamber for Business. During the current financial year the town council has earmarked £10,000, NNDC £45,000 and the county council £39,000.
Chamber chairman Nicholas Lee said the 250 jobs created by another store on Cromer Road would have been cancelled out by lost jobs and closed businesses in the town centre.
Mr Scott said he would have been confident of success at appeal and heavily criticised the manner in which the application had been handled which he said was very disappointing when there had been such positive support from the community and there was a declared need for regeneration in North Walsham.
He added: “We would consider it to be an opportunity lost for the town and a loss to the local people who so clearly wanted further choice both for their weekly shop and fuel provider.
“Unfortunately the council didn’t agree with the public view and felt the town centre needed protection from our scheme. It will be interesting to review the progress the town makes.
“We would like to thank the good people of North Walsham for their honest opinions and positive response and particularly those who spoke at the applications and were good enough to record their frustration with the decision to refuse our application.
“The future of the site is uncertain and we have lost enthusiasm to bring anything forward in the near future.”