Plans to build north Norfolk's largest supermarket
in the district's second smallest town will face a mountain of opposition, both from local people and the authorities, at a key meeting next week. Tesco's desire to more than double the size of its Stalham store has been in the public domain since 2006, but a planning meeting on Thursday is the first decision making meeting on the matter. The presence of Tesco in Stalham has been a hot topic ever since the original store opened in 2002. Debate about how exactly much impact the store has had on neighbouring town traders has been vociferous. The extension plans would increase the total size of the store to 5,133 sq m, although it is the retail floor space increasing from 1,400 to 3,070 sq m which has caused the most alarm among local traders - especially as the majority of the new space will be taken up by non-food 'comparison' goods such as clothes and electrical items. Concerns set to be raised at Thursday's meeting will come from a host of directions and will include a view from Great Yarmouth Borough Council that a Stalham expansion, allied with potential expansion at the chain's Caister store, could lead to “a major impact” on shops as far way as Repps with Bastwick, Potter Heigham, Martham and Rollesby. The decision rests with the east area development control committee at North Norfolk District Council, who will hear objection from Stalham Town Council, CPRE Norfolk, the Stalham with Happing Partnership, their own officers, Norfolk County Council highways experts and the Environment Agency. There has been some support of the plans, with parish councils in the area split in their view, with some in favour and some against. If the new supermarket gets the go ahead, it will be bigger than the North Walsham branch of Sainsbury, the Morrison stores in Cromer and Fakenham and the Tesco in Fakenham. The plans include a major rejig of the road layout of the A149, including the construction of a new roundabout. Council officers will recommend Thursday's committee to refuse the plans because:
The scale of the development is unacceptable on retail policy grounds
The scale, layout and design would have an adverse impact on the character of the town and adjacent conservation area
The proposals fail to fully address highway safety and flood risk, while also failing to provide an adequate travel plan
Other issues for discussion will include the fact the expansion land is currently designated as an employment area, whereas supermarket land needs permission for retail use.