Plan for major new Norwich store

Plans are being proposed for a major store and care home as part of a bid to breathe new life into an eyesore site where a historic former shoe factory once stood.

The former Start-rite factory in Mousehold Lane, which closed in 2004 and was mostly destroyed by a blaze in 2005, has since been bulldozed and is currently being levelled in preparation for a new development.

Before it was pulled down the factory had become an eyesore and a magnet for vandals, who smashed windows and found their way into the dilapidated building. It has now emerged that Peter Colby Commercials is behind proposals to put a store and 60-bed care home on the site and have submitted outline plans to Norwich City Council.

The developers have issued people living in the area with drawings of what the new development might look like. While some local people have expressed concern about the traffic implications, most have welcomed the fact that a former eyesore could be about to be transformed.

Julie Westmacott, a city councillor for Catton Grove ward, said: 'I think feedback from the local community is that they would like to see something done with the site.

'Clearly whatever goes on the site there will be a range of issues and a range of concerns, particularly because of the volume of traffic at that locality.

'I think there will be a range of views about what sort of shop, but I think the majority

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like to see it developed but developed in a sympathetic way with what's already there. What I will be doing is talking to people in the vicinity to see what their views are.'

Jeremy Aldous, from Peter Colby Commercials, said they are in discussion with all the major retail outlets. He said: 'We're looking to split the site up and develop two different uses - a residential care home to the rear of the site and a store to the front. We're in discussion with most of the retailers you can think of.' The store site would be a total of 1,585 sq m (17,000 sq ft) while the proposals also include a traffic management scheme for the road to improve congestion in the area.

Mr Aldous said assuming outline permission was granted for a change of use, then a more detailed planning application would then be lodged with City Hall.

He said: 'We think we've shown there's a good case and a retail demand for it and it fits in with everything that the council aspires to on that side.'

Currently contractors are levelling and decontaminating the site to ensure that it is ready for any potential future development.

Jennifer Wood, 71, who has lived on Mousehold Lane for more than 30 years, has received a leaflet about the plans and said she welcomed plans to redevelop the site. She said plans for a store on the site 'wouldn't actually hurt us' and would prove convenient for people living in the area.

A neighbour who was in her 50s, but did not want to be named, said she had concerns about the prospect of a store going up on what was already a very busy road.

In February 2004 a century of shoe making ended as the Mousehold Lane site along with the Start-rite factory on Crome Road were put up for auction. The firm moved to Broadland Business Park in Thorpe St Andrew.

A City Hall spokesman said: 'Norwich City Council has been in discussions with the developer regarding this site and we expect to receive a valid planning application shortly.'

? Have you got a story about a major new development near you? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email