Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Tesco loses Sheringham store wars

The latest battle in Sheringham's storewars today saw councillors approve plans for the eco-friendly Greenhouse Community Project while once again throwing out proposals for a Tesco in the town.

But the decision, voted in by a majority of 10 to six, could need to be reconsidered if North Norfolk District Council officers decide it could not be defended in a legal challenge.

The announcement came this afternoon following more than four hours of argument, counter argument and debate at the council officers in Cromer which saw councillors, businessmen, residents, school pupils and a headteacher all have their say.

Clive Hay-Smith's successful plans for the Greenhouse Community Project on Weybourne Road would include a supermarket managed by Waitrose as well as food academy.

After the meeting the delighted businessman congratulated councillors on making "a very brave decision for Sheringham's future" and said, subject to the legal checks, he hoped to have both the store and academy open by autumn 2011.

However Tesco spokesman Nick Gellatly said councillors had “clearly ignored government planning policy and their own officers' recommendations” to reach a decision that was “on shaky grounds” with “reasons to refuse that were cobbled together” and which the company would be studying.

Council officers had recommended councillors should approve the proposed Cromer Road Tesco store and refuse the Greenhouse-Waitrose plans because it was too far out of town.

They argued the Tesco site would encourage shoppers to also visit shops in the town centre while the rival scheme could harm other traders and would be poorly served by public transport - despite the backers' plans to offer a free electric bus service.

But while some councillors agreed, others feared extra retail units which would be built as part of the Tesco scheme for independent traders would soon be used by the supermarket giant to add to its sales space.

Clive Hay-Smith, the man behind the Greenhouse/Waitrose plan.
Councillor Barbara McGoun also insisted the chance to bring something unusual to the area, offered by the Greenhouse scheme, should not be missed. “The Weybourne Road plan is an absolute breath of fresh air,” she said.

In total 14 speakers, plus a representative from the town council, addressed the room during the meeting offering a mixture of views in favour and against both proposals.

During the meeting Sheringham High schoolgirl Hope Worsdale, clutching a plastic globe, spoke passionately in favour of the environment and the Greenhouse scheme which she said would act as a beacon for retailers across the country and encourage further eco-friendly development.

The 15-year-old, who has lived in Sheringham for 12 years, said: “It is the way forward with genuine values and beliefs which are needed to get us out of the mess we are in.”

Following the decision she described the committee's decision as “a move in the right direction” and hoped legal issues would not prevent the Greenhouse Project being built.

But Jono Read, who runs a Facebook group supporting the Tesco plans, insisted fears that the Cromer Road site would mean an end to many of the smaller independent shops were unfounded. “Tesco won't kill the town,” he told the meeting.

He said the plans and the prospect of new jobs created by them would be welcomed by many.

He said: “Weekend, night time and holiday jobs are exactly what people like me are calling out for.”