Sheringham store campaigners under fire
Richard Batson Anti-supermarket campaigners have come under fire for wanting to preserve Sheringham as a “1950s theme park”.It came as townsfolk today gave their views on a controversial proposed Tesco store on the fifth day of a 10-day planning appeal.
Anti-supermarket campaigners have come under fire for wanting to preserve Sheringham as a “1950s theme park”.
It came as townsfolk today gave their views on a controversial proposed Tesco store on the fifth day of a 10-day planning appeal.
Equal numbers of supporters and opponents took their turn to give their evidence and views to the inquiry.
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The decision of inspector Christina Downes - seen as vital for the future of the popular resort - is expected to be announced six to eight weeks after the hearing ends.
Tesco wants to build a 1,500 sq m store on the Cromer Road, saying it will stop local folk driving out of town for their weekly shop and bring in extra trade which will benefit other traders - and are appealing against planning refusal.
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Opponents, led by the Sheringham Campaign Against Major Retail Overdevelopment and local traders, say it will suck the life blood from the town, as well as causing traffic chaos on the busy coast road.
However resident Paul Norman accused the two bodies of “wanting to see Sheringham preserved as a 1950s theme park.
“But we are not role-playing extras. We are real people who live and work here in the 21st century with all the pressures that involves.”
Mr Norman said local families, on low local wages, wanted a bigger supermarket, but felt their voice was being swamped by the anti campaigners.
Stephanie Massingham urged the protestors to stop scaremongering and listen to local people who wanted a choice where to shop, and said a similar outcry when a market was put on the car park “did not close the town as all the dinosaurs predicted.”
And Malcolm Bass said the relentless anti Tesco campaign had been a “vendetta on the company rather than the development,” It was intimidating, “little short of bullying” and put undue pressure on councillors who made the decision.
But shops would close if the Tesco store went ahead and drove a final nail into their coffin, said Phil Smith of the Rural Shops Alliance, which represents 7,000 independent traders nationwide.
Tesco were “very professional” in the way they ran stores, but also predatory and ruthless when it came to eliminating the competition.
It was impossible to have “the best of both worlds” with a new supermarket and a vibrant town centre. And the £16m being clawed back into the economy would only “go into the tills of Tesco” at the expense of Morrisons in Cromer.
Chamber of trade spokesman from Cromer Tracey Khalil said her town faced losing £10m worth of trade in the first year of a Tesco opening.
It could undermine the 16 years over to recovery from Safeway (now Morrisons) opening, which had been achieved through £12m worth of investment and five years of regeneration.
She feared Sheringham was the final piece in a Tesco jigsaw puzzle which saw them turning North Norfolk into Tescoland.
Another public session is being held at Sheringham community centre tonight at 7pm.