Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

D-Day looms for Sheringham store plans

Rival plans for a supermarket at Sheringham will go head to head at a crunch council meeting on March 4. The face-off is between two big high street names - one which has been targeting the town for 14 years, the other a newcomer to the battle. Tesco has been trying to build a store in the resort since 1996 in the face of fierce opposition from traders and town councillors who fear it will harm the existing vibrant town centre - a view upheld by a planning inspector who rejected an appeal by the retail giant, and also tagged the design “mundane.” It has come back with revised plans featuring a store that is a fifth smaller, moved closer to the town centre, and designed by renowned architects who created Tyneside's “winking eye” footbridge. Waitrose would run a store promoted last year by local businessman Clive Hay-Smith in a bid to provide an alternative to Tesco. It would have electric delivery vehicles and shoppers buses, and be linked to plans for a neighbouring Norfolk Food Academy teaching cookery and food understanding. It is on an allotment site given in a land swap with the town council, which has created 200 new allotments. North Norfolk District Council's planning committee will debate the pros and cons of each scheme next Thursday at a special meeting starting at 9.30am. It is a decision which will have far-reaching impact on the future of the town and which has seen it split into vocal factions in the past. The council has confirmed the date of the meeting and an agenda containing officers' recommendations should be out by tomorrow. Tesco argues its store is needed to stop the majority of locals driving to supermarkets in neighbouring towns for their big weekly shop and that Sheringham would benefit from spin-off trade as people walked through to the town centre from free three-hour parking - particularly as the Tesco scheme is 150m from the town centre, while the Waitrose one is 1km away. The Greenhouse scheme says it also aims to provide for the weekly shop, with an emphasis on local quality food, and a range of goods designed to complement rather than cripple the local economy. It wanted to prevent Sheringham becoming “another Tesco town” while the sale of the store to Waitrose would bolster a community fund supporting local projects. The plans at a glance:
Location - Cromer Road (on site of community centre and fire station, which would be replaced elsewhere)
Sales space - 1,175 sq m Parking - 143 spaces free for three hours
Jobs created - 150

Waitrose / Greenhouse
Location - Weybourne Road (on former allotment land next to Splash leisure centre)
Sales space - 1,250 sq m
Parking - 135, with power points for mobility scooters. Free electric bus.
Jobs created - 155

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Waitrose eyes new Norfolk superstore

Supermarket chain Waitrose is determined to open a store in north Norfolk, either at Sheringham or elsewhere, says a company boss.

The retailer has thrown its hat into the ring of the town's “store wars” planning battle with rivals Tesco which has split the community in a sometimes bitter war of words and which now looks likely to be decided next month. Waitrose would operate an eco-friendly Greenhouse Project store on the Weybourne Road promoted by local landowner Clive Hay-Smith as an alternative to Tesco's long-running plans on the Cromer Road. The Greenhouse scheme, which would feature electric delivery vehicles and shopper buses, is also linked to a Norfolk Food Academy that would promote cookery and food knowledge next door.

Waitrose's development director Nigel Keen said the company did not want to “get embroiled in spats which have occurred previously. But he said Waitrose had been looking at Sheringham as a possible store venue for “some time,” but felt Tesco had the “dominant position”. When it was approached by Mr Hay-Smith, “some months ago” the scheme matched the company's green and local food sourcing credentials, as well as policies of supporting local farmers and running cooking schools, which it does at its stores in Southend and Cheltenham. “We felt we should support it to give Sheringham people another option. We would like to be close to the town centre but that is not possible. The people of Sheringham will look at both schemes. It is not for us to get into a debate about who is the best operator. If this site doesn't happen we will be disappointed because it is a chance to provide something for the community,” he said, adding that if refused the company would continue to look for sites in Sheringham and other towns.

Waitrose, which is part of the John Lewis group, has 223 stores across the UK, including at Norwich, Wymondham and Swaffham.

The Greenhouse scheme has planning policy hurdles to leap because of its location on the edge of town, while Tesco is hoping its revised plans with improved designs, and moving the store closer to existing shops, will overcome previous objections including potential impact on the existing town centre.

The provisional date for a decision by North Norfolk District Council's planning committee is now March 4.