Work starts on controversial Tesco store

Sarah HallWork has finally started to pave the way for a controversial new Tesco store in Norwich, which got the go-ahead despite being turned down four times by city councillors.Sarah Hall

Work has finally started to pave the way for a controversial new Tesco store in Norwich, which got the go-ahead despite being turned down four times by city councillors.

Tesco first applied for permission to build a store on the former Arlington petrol station site in Unthank Road in 2004 but was turned down four times by members of Norwich City Council's planning committee.

But permission was granted early last year after a planning inspector ruled in its favour and approved the plans.

More than a year later and a lack of action at the site led to speculation Tesco might have decided not to press ahead with the store.

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However, workmen arrived this week, to get the site ready for the new store.

Weeds and rubble has been cleared away, while large blue boards have been put up around the site, ahead of a planned summer opening.

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Carol Leslie, spokeswoman for Tesco, said: 'We have always remained committed to this site. It's an excellent location and a good opportunity to bring a disused site back to use.

'We look forward to creating new jobs, serving local people and becoming part of the community'

It is understood the new store, for which no definite opening date has yet been fixed, would create around 25 new jobs.

Tesco has been asked to pay for and install a pedestrian crossing directly outside the shop, after concerns were raised about traffic making deliveries to the store and increased numbers of vehicles heading down Unthank Road.

The arrival of yet another Tesco has provoked a mixed reaction in the area. Some families and businesses fear it will kill off independent shops, but others believe it will attract more people to the street.

One who firmly holds the first viewpoint is Adrian Ramsay, Norwich City councillor for Nelson ward. He said: 'It's very frustrating the work is going ahead because the city council turned it down repeatedly.

'We need a planning system where communities and councils have more say on what happens, rather than being over-ruled by a remote planning inspector.

'We will be keeping a very close eye on whether Tesco sticks to the traffic arrangements because we are concerned about the extra traffic, but I am confident residents will continue to use and support the existing independent stores in the area.'

Elsewhere in Unthank Road, the street's Norwich and Peterborough Society branch closed its doors on Monday.

The decision to shut the branch, along with nine others around the region, was made last December because it would need 'substantial investment' to bring it up to standard and there was another branch in the Chapelfield shopping centre.

What's your view on the Unthank Road Tesco store? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or

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