EveningNews24

Artist's impression of the proposed Asda at the Bally Shoe Factory in Norwich.

Greens defend refusal of Norwich Asda store

Sunday, September 23, 2012
10.22 AM

The leader of the Green group on Norwich City Council has said her councillors were right to block plans for a second Asda store in Norwich.

The supermarket giant had hoped to build a new new store at the old Bally Shoe Factory site, near Tuckswood, along with a gym, pub, community centre, 334-space car park and other shops.

But, at a planning meeting last week, the city council’s planning committee turned down the scheme by five votes to four.

Four Green councillors and one Liberal Democrat voted to refuse the Hall Road scheme, saying the 5,796 sq m superstore was too dominant for a district centre, the plans did not make best use of a brownfield site, protected trees would be removed, pedestrian access was not good enough and the car park was too dominant.

That sparked Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council to criticise her political opponents for costing the city an estimated 400 jobs Asda said the development would bring.

But Claire Stephenson, leader of the Green group said her councillors made the right call in blocking the plans, particularly as the site could be used for homes.

An earlier planning application for the site, which has since expired, had included more than 220 flats and homes alongside a superstore, gym and community centre and Miss Stephenson said Labour were wrong to attack her party for standing up for better use of the land.

She said: “The council’s Labour cabinet knows that there’s a huge need for housing – particularly social housing – in Norwich, so to throw away the opportunity to build people places to live on a suitable site by using that valuable land for a supermarket car park which could have been more efficiently designed, seems very short-sighted.

“Furthermore, the Labour council needs to be doing more to help and promote local businesses, not just accepting whatever is offered by multi-national companies because they think it’s the ‘best they can do’.”

Stephen Little, Green councillor for Town Close, who was the planning committee member who proposed turning down Asda’s plans, said: “This application was an attempt to run roughshod over city council policies. These policies are in place for good reason: to protect the city centre as a focus for shopping, to ensure development is sustainable and not dependent on the use of a car and, perhaps most importantly, to ensure we make maximum use of brownfield sites.

“This application fell short on every count and would have drastically undermined carefully considered plans for the future of the city.”

Lucy Howard, Green councillor for Mancroft, who also sits on the planning committee, said: “It’s our job as community leaders to work with local businesses to create meaningful, well-paid work which is sustainable over the long term.

“The growing cost of oil will enormously increase the cost of supermarket food which is transported a long way. “As prices go up, jobs in supermarkets will become less sustainable.

“Also, the poor pedestrian and cycle access from Hall Road demonstrated that this was an application primarily centred around the car.

“This is completely contrary to planning policies which try to encourage cycling and walking.”

Asda, which has a store on Drayton Road, is understood to be deciding whether to appeal against the decision.

• What is your view on the decision which was made? Write to Norwich Evening News, Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk