Tesco Sheringham plan backed by officers
Richard BatsonTesco looks poised to win the long and bitter battle to build a supermarket at Sheringham - if councillors follow the advice of their officers.Planning officials are recommending approval of Tesco's long-running bid for a store on Cromer Road, and refusal of a rival Greenhouse Project scheme on Weybourne Road.Richard Batson
Tesco looks poised to win the long and bitter battle to build a supermarket at Sheringham - if councillors follow the advice of their officers.
Planning officials are recommending approval of Tesco's long-running bid for a store on Cromer Road, and refusal of a rival Greenhouse Project scheme on Weybourne Road.
The decision will be taken at a special development control committee meeting of North Norfolk District Council next Thursday.
Councillors have ignored officer guidance in the past, but this time are being urged to back the latest scheme by Tesco, which has been trying to build a store for years, rather than a newer scheme hatched by a local landowner Clive Hay-Smith.
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His Greenhouse scheme on Weybourne Road is earmarked for refusal as it failed to show it was the best 'sequentially available site' closest to the town centre, was poorly served by public transport, would harm the town centre, and was against national and local planning policies.
Both store plans are roughly the same size, but the Tesco one is 300m from the town centre and the Waitrose store 1,000m away.
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The council's retail consultant said the Tesco site's location on the edge of the town centre, with a walkway through, would encourage shoppers to heading to the existing shops.
But the farther-flung Waitrose store would cause more harm to the town centre, leading to 'substantial closures of food and convenience shops'.
Closure of the Co-Op was a 'distinct possibility' under both plans.
Officers praised the environmental and community initiatives of the Greenhouse scheme' - such as linked allotments, educational Food Academy, and local food sourcing - but said they did not outweigh the breaches of planning policy.
Highways officials said it was 'not a sustainable location' and the offers of electric shuttle bus service was an admission of that.
The report says the Waitrose scheme 'would be harmful to the vitality and viability of the town centre to a far greater extent than a store sited within easy walking distance.'
The impact of the Tesco plan was 'likely to be greater than stated by the applicant' but was acceptable on balance.
A previous design was condemned as 'mundane' by the appeal inspector, but officials now say the latest one is 'the best yet', being bolder and more linked the surroundings.
The Greenhouse plan has received 223 letters in favour and 55 against, while Tesco's had 287 letters of support, with 236 and a 96 name petition against.
The 80-page agenda is available from the council including on line at www.northnorfolk.org
For a full report on the two store plans and their backers' answers to questions put by the News, buy this week's paper.