A store wars saga at Sheringham
has taken a fresh twist as a new contender entered the fray with a groundbreaking idea for a supermarket which seeks to help the environment and local traders. The seaside town has been the focus of a battle to build a store for more than a decade, with Tesco and Budgens leading the way in the past. But, just as Tesco prepared to unveil its latest plans for a scaled- down store, a local landowner has thrown his hat in the ring with a pioneering plan. It involves a store in an eco-friendly building, that would have electric delivery vehicles and plough a share of its profits back into a new community charity. The rank outsider saddling up for the race to build a store is retired businessman Clive Hay-Smith, driven by a desire to add another option to the long-running debate, and a feeling that Sheringham deserved better than the plans served up so far by Tesco. The 52-year-old, who was chief executive in the Pearson publishing empire, was brought up in Sheringham and had “watched the Tesco debate from afar”. He explained: “I have been thinking about this for a year. The community deserves better than what Tesco is planning.” Mr Hay-Smith's plan on the Weybourne Road near the Splash pool, revolves around a land swap already agreed in principle by Sheringham Town Council. He would give the town 13 acres of farmland, enabling it to double the number of allotments and provide space to expand the cemetery. In return he would build a Greenhouse Country Store on the four-acre allotment plot, in a building with a sedum roof, solar panels and wind turbines. Mr Hay-Smith said he aimed to build and operate the store, but would consider letting a retailer run it if they were “of the right profile”, with 10pc of any sale proceeds going to the charity trust. The swap could go ahead even if the store scheme did not come off, said Mr Hay-Smith who said although his store was the same size as the original Tesco scheme, it was a different, greener approach, and less of a traffic hazard away from the roundabout and fire station. Sheringham mayor Noel Gant confirmed the council had agreed in principle “after considerable discussion” to the land swap because of the benefits to a community where there was a 40-strong waiting list for allotments. Eroica Mildmay, whose Sheringham Campaign Against Major Retail Overdevelopment group has opposed the Tesco plans, could not comment fully about the Greenhouse scheme until she knew all the facts, but welcomed the “community viability issues at the centre of its ethos” and green design. North Norfolk District Council community director Steve Blatch said he was aware of the proposal, and had “not dismissed it out of hand”. But the council had made the developer aware of a “substantial number of policy issues”, such as being well outside the town centre retail area and close to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.” Tesco's plans, to be revealed tomorrow, aim to overcome concerns - centred on the potential damage to the existing vibrant town centre, and attacks on its bland design - which saw its original scheme rejected by planners and a government inspector on appeal. The company has reduced the size of sales floor space by a quarter, making it similar to the its store at Aylsham.
HOW THE STORES COMPARE
Greenhouse Country Store
1,500 sq m of retail space
would employ 130 staff
orders, made by phone or on-line, delivered by electric vehicles
locally-sourced products used where possible.
a café could be an attraction itself on the coast road
would not sell books, clothes, electrical goods or ironmonger in a bid to co-exist with current traders
a minimum of 10pc of the profits to be ploughed back into a charitable trust to help local causes
An exhibition outlining the green store plans will be held in Sheringham, at the old Lloyds Bank building, on April 7-9, from 8am to 8pm.
1,200-1,250 sq m retail space
would offer a “good range of food and groceries, with a very limited selection of other goods”
new plans aim to improve the design and pick up on local architecture
revised plans could also move the store closer to Station Road to strengthen linked walking trips to the town centre
fuller details will be revealed at an exhibition being held at the Oddfellows Hall on Lifeboat Plain, behind the Crown pub on the seafront, on Friday from 10am to 8pm and Saturday from 10am to 3pm.