New Norwich Tesco to sell alcohol

Dan GrimmerA controversial new Tesco store in Norwich has been given permission to sell alcohol - despite objections from families living nearby.Dan Grimmer

A controversial new Tesco store in Norwich has been given permission to sell alcohol - despite objections from families living nearby.

The Unthank Road store, which is currently being built, was yesterday granted an alcohol licence, although representations from neighbours led to the superstore giant agreeing to cut the number of hours it sells drink.

The Tesco Express, due to open next month, had sought to sell alcohol from 6am until 11pm seven days a week, but seven objections were sent to Norwich City Council.

The majority were from families living in Trinity Street, the road next to the store, who raised concerns about an increase in anti-social behaviour and too much cheap alcohol being available.

At a meeting of the city council's licensing committee yesterday, members agreed to grant the licence, but took up an offer from Tesco not to sell alcohol until 8am each day.

Jeremy Bark, Tesco's lawyer, had told the committee the superstore took its responsibilities very seriously, would have CCTV in the store and people selling alcohol would be properly trained on licensing issues, including the corporate Think 25 policy, where people are asked to provide proof of age before drink is sold to them.

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He added fears over cheap alcohol were unfounded, with Tesco Express stores never selling alcohol below the cost price.

Mr Bark said: 'We have experience around the country and in Norwich, including in sensitive areas, and, while we fully understand and hear the concerns, we believe they will not be realised.'

Melody Wright, who was one of three objectors at the meeting, accused Tesco of hypocrisy, given the company makes great play of its role in the local community and said the community minded thing to do would be not to sell alcohol at all.

She added: 'I do not know why there are only three of us here. That seems extraordinary with the objection there is to Tesco. This is such an unfriendly, uncommunity way of hearing an objection. It's terrifying to have us here in front of all you guys.

'If you knocked on people's doors you'd get lots of people saying yes, they object to Tesco, but to wade through all the documents and then sit in front of a committee like this is not friendly.'

But council officers said licensing had to be conducted according to certain regulations and to a prescribed format.

The store, which is fast taking shape on the site of a former petrol station was only given planning permission after Tesco launched a planning appeal.

Four applications had been turned down by members of the city council planning committee, but a planning inspector overturned their decision, saying he did not think the new store would lead to traffic problems in the street - the reason the council gave for rejecting the scheme.

Are you looking forward to the opening on the new store? Or are you concerned about it? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email