Eco-store plan runs into opposition

Allotment holders in Sheringham vented their anger during a public meeting to discuss a potential land swap which would see the number of allotments increased significantly, but would force current holders to move to a new, neighbouring site.

Allotment holders in Sheringham vented their anger during a public meeting to discuss a potential land swap which would see the number of allotments increased significantly, but would force current holders to move to a new, neighbouring site.

The scheme is part of a wider plan to build a new 'green' supermarket on the edge of town, a concept dreamed up by local landowner Clive Hay-Smith and one which he feels offers Sheringham an alternative to the long running attempts to build a Tesco in town.

Friday night's meeting, chaired by town mayor Noel Gant, was called to explain some of the detail of the Weybourne Road plan, which would see the current four acres of allotments swapped for 21 acres of neighbouring farmland. This would allow an increase in allotments, plus an extension of the available cemetery land. There is currently space for 25 years worth of burials, but there would be 100 years worth if the plan goes ahead.

The total cost of the land swap, which would take place between Sheringham Town Council and Mr Hay-Smith, would be a nominal �1.


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But the allotment holders association said they were against the scheme and a members' vote the night before saw 37 against and four in favour.

Chairman Chris Gould said 'some benefits' were recognised, but outlined a series of 'grave concerns'. These included exposure to the wind from the sea, the 'many years' it would take to bring new plots up to standard, access to the site and security.

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People also spoke in support of the swap, with one speaker saying: 'This is short sightedness, it's not often people come forward with offers like this.'

Karen Kenny, of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, spoke at length in support, calling the idea a 'good proposal' .

Mr Hay-Smith said if the swap went ahead he would apply for the supermarket planning permission on the current allotment site, but if he failed, he hoped it would find a new use as an extension to local football provision.

He was happy to make a legally binding obligation not to apply for planning permission for houses 'or anything else', in a bid to curb claims he had other development intentions on the land. He would also offer labour and equipment to help people move.

Mr Hay-Smith said his offer would expire on June 10. The town council is expected to make a decision before this date.

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