Tesco unveils new Sheringham vision

Tesco executives unveiled a new vision for a Sheringham supermarket last week, hoping to answer 13 years of criticism - but as crowds scrambled to get a better look at the plans the split in the town seemed as strong as ever.

Tesco executives have unveiled a new vision for a Sheringham supermarket, hoping to answer 13 years of criticism.

But, as crowds scrambled to get a better look at the plans, the split in the town seemed as strong as ever.

The store chain claims to have started from scratch on its plans for the Cromer Road site after its last proposals were thrown out by a planning inspector in September.

An exhibition on Friday at Oddfellows Hall revealed its vision of a building that is a quarter smaller than the previous offering, positioned closer to Station Road to encourage shoppers to stay in town and of a design which, Tesco hopes, will answer the inspector's criticisms of a "mundane" appearance.

Tesco had brought in Wilkinson Eyre, the architects behind the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, and spokesman Nick Gellatly said that, at just 6.5m high and using a combination of brick and flint, the building would blend in better with its surroundings.

He added: "We have tried to make the building fit comfortably with its area. We are using materials used in some of the other buildings nearby."

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But, while the proposed 1,250 sq ft supermarket aimed to reconcile the two disparate camps in the town, a notice board full of comments from visitors to the exhibition suggested the split was still very much in place.

Comments such as "Yes please, do it soon" and "Much needed, best wishes from us who suffer high prices in Sheringham" were balanced out by others saying "Not in my name" and "Too large, wrong place". After looking at the proposals, Pam Blyth, from the Protesc group, said she believed the company had bent over backwards to make people happy.

She said of the plans: "They're absolutely brilliant. I think they have gone 150pc towards answering all the concerns of the people. It's absolutely superb and will fit in with the town."

But Eroica Mildmay, of Sheringham Campaign Against Major Retail Overdevelopment, said the new plans were too vague to win anyone over.

She added: "There is no picture of what the town will be like. It's being kept deliberately vague. I left feeling a little bit inconclusive about what it was they were offering."

Tesco said it had purposely not drawn up a finished design as it hoped feedback from the exhibition could be used to influence a final appearance.

Several people seemed sceptical about the prospect of a smaller store, believing future expansion was inevitable, but Mr Gellatly said: "The site is so constrained it would be very difficult to extend. You can never say never, but we cannot see how we could do it."

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