Eco-superstore plan a step nearer

A pioneering eco-supermarket scheme at Sheringham has taken a step forward after a land-swap deal was backed by local councillors.The move came despite opposition from some allotment holders, who face being uprooted from their current plots to new ones just a few yards away in a land-swap deal which paves the way for the project.

A pioneering eco-supermarket scheme at Sheringham has taken a step forward after a land-swap deal was backed by local councillors.

The move came despite opposition from some allotment holders, who face being uprooted from their current plots to new ones just a few yards away in a land-swap deal which paves the way for the project.

Local businessman Clive Hay-Smith has offered the town council 20 acres of farmland in exchange for four acres of allotments on the Weybourne Road - where he hopes to build a Greenhouse Country Store, employing 130 staff, promoting local produce, using electric delivery vehicles, and ploughing a share of profits back into a new community charity.

He has also just revealed another 'surprise' element to the plan - a food academy next to the store, where two modern kitchens would be used to teach children and adults cookery skills, as well as an appreciation of food's journey from land to shop shelf.


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It will see 10 allotments linked to the venture for educational trips and would also offer community groups such as WIs a kitchen that complied with tightening food preparation regulations.

Mr Hay-Smith said the overall cost of the scheme, about �6-10m, was 'not small potatoes'. He welcomed the decision taken by town councillors to proceed, which set the concerns of a minority against the wider interests of the town.

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The decision was taken in closed session at the end of a town council meeting where Mr Hay-Smith made a presentation and some allotment holders aired concerns.

Mr Hay-Smith voiced his anger at the verbal attacks directed at his family over the plans.

'I have put up with quite a lot of vitriol which I can take, but I am unhappy when it is aimed at my family.

There had been a lot of speculation about whether the scheme involved housing, but if refused planning permission he would grass over the old allotments for a possible sporting facility.

Mr Hay-Smith said he had tried to maintain transparency where possible, talking to the public and press about the project.

The swap offer, which had a June 10 deadline next week, has seen an increased offer from the original 12.5 acres to enable more than 200 new allotments. They would be 'Rolls Royce' standard and would also see �180,000 given to the allotment committee for other improvements of their choice. He would also replace a compound used for carnival storage at the cost of another �20,000.

During public question time allotment holders representative Barry Breslin-Smith said they were still mostly against the swap, while other plot holders queried whether there were any covenants on the land restricting its use.

Mr Hay-Smith stressed that the lease terms up for a decision were not legally binding, and final approval was likely to have to be made by the secretary of state, who would take such issues into account.

After the meeting he said he aimed to submit a planning application by end of June to 'have a chance' against other rival supermarket plans, led by Tesco's long standing bid, currently being redesigned in a bid to overcome earlier objections.

The town council, which voted 11-0 to agreed the basic heads of terms lease, with three abstentions, confirmed there were no covenants on the land.

A display of the updated plans, including the food academy, and a model of the proposed store will be held at the old Lloyds Bank in Church Street on June 19 (8am to 6pm) and 20 (8am to 8pm), with Mr Hay-Smith on hand to answer questions and a chance for people to lodge their views before a planning application is lodged at the end of the month.

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