Wymondham traders back Asda supermarket proposals

Almost 40 Wymondham traders have signed a letter backing proposals to build a supermarket on a town centre site.

The shopkeepers believe the intro-duction of an Asda store could help turn around declining trade through generating additional footfall.

The wave of support flies in the face of concerns voiced by many local residents since Wymondham Town Council announced last month it was in discussions with the retail giant to build a store on Kings Head Meadow.

Objections have included the development's potential impact on traffic levels and the loss of the historic open green space, while the town council has argued that the store would inject money into Wymondham to fund new facilities, such as play areas and a cemetery, in light of plans to bring 2,200 homes to the town over the next 15 years.

Kings Head Meadow is currently home to Wymondham Town Football Club, which would be relocated to new bespoke leisure facilities at a site yet to be revealed.

One of the traders who signed the letter, Rob Sutherland who owns The Marmalade Tree gift, interiors and clothing store in Market Place, said independent shops had flourished in other towns with supermarkets built on central sites.

'My feeling is that it can only benefit the town. It can only benefit the consumer and hopefully secure the longevity of Wymondham as a whole,' he said. 'I do not think other retailers would have to worry about the competition, just step up the mark. Certainly Beccles is a thriving town and without a shadow of a doubt is a result of Tesco's influence.'

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He also welcomed the addition of a new building in terms of the modern architectural element it would be bring to the town centre.

Wymondham Town Mayor Neil Ward welcomed the traders' support.

'I understand people do have reservations and are concerned but I think with over 2,200 houses coming the town needs to increase its offer,' he said,

'It's good that the retailers can see there are possible benefits from having something like this. Most have said if you build a store on the outskirts of the town, then you will kill the town.'

A public exhibition into the proposals is due to be held in the spring before the submission of a planning application.

Meanwhile an action group has been formed to fight the plans called Wymondham Asks Why (WAW).

The group has called a public meeting for objectors to the proposals to air their opinions.

The meeting will take place at the Fairland United Reformed Church on November 19 from 11.30am.

Andy Gardiner, chairman of WAW, said the group had already gathered signatures from more than 1,000 opposing residents.

He said they were in favour of bringing a new supermarket to the town, but objected to the choice of Kings Head Meadow as a suitable site.