Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Budgens join Tesco supermarket fray

The battle to build a supermarket in Sheringham is back on. With Tesco still licking its wounds after Monday's unexpected announcement that it had lost its planning appeal a local businessman has thrown down the gauntlet and said he is ready and willing to build the supermarket that people want to see in Sheringham. Last night Paul Burnell, who with business partner Jinx Hundal, runs the current small Budgens store in the town, upped the ante in the 13-year saga saying he was best placed to build a supermarket that would complement and not threaten the vibrancy and distinctive nature of the market town. He said: “We want to work with the chamber of trade and the council to find a good solution for a new store and we do want to be that store.“Budgens has a good record in north Norfolk and we work well with the local community.“We do not want to compete with other retailers - we want to work alongside them.”The pledge has been welcomed by the Sheringham Chamber of Trade. Chairman Janet Farrow said: “We would be willing to work alongside absolutely anybody who comes forward to make that happen for the benefit of Sheringham and all its residents.” Yesterday Tesco bosses were giving little away and refused to say whether they would press ahead with their long-held ambition of bringing the brand, which currently has 1,252 stores across the UK, to Sheringham. Nick Gellatly, corporate affairs manager, said the company was disappointed at the decision and was currently taking legal advice.He said: “We cannot rule anything in and equally we cannot rule anything out.“I suppose a question we would ask is would a smaller store achieve what people in Sheringham want in terms of providing a full range of groceries?” The supermarket giant has been left with three options - pull out, take its battle to build a store with 1,500sqm of trading space to the Court of Appeal and challenge the planning inspectorate's decision or work with local people to develop a smaller store of 750sqm that they find acceptable. A major question facing any new supermarket bid would be where to site the store. Tesco could still try and build on the land it has proposed at Cromer Road, in which case North Norfolk District Council would still benefit from a £1.2m cash windfall from the sale of the Lockerbie Flats to the company. Alternatively NNDC may change a previous decision and decide to sell its lion's share of the Station Road car park in the town centre for development. In 2003 Budgens was granted planning permission to build a new store on the car park but the plan fell flat after both NNDC and the North Norfolk Railway, which owns the other portion of land needed, refused to sell.Last night a spokesman for NNDC said it was taking legal advice to understand the implications of the land deal. However, the planning inspector's report did highlight problems with the car park site. The inspector said: “I do not consider that the Station Road site is a practical alternative to the appeal site within the foreseeable future.”