Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Sheringham store decision delayed

A crucial decision to resolve Sheringham's long-running store wars saga has been postponed again - because of new government planning policies. Rival plans by Tesco, which has been seeking a Cromer Road store for more than decade, and a newer scheme by landowner Clive Hay-Smith whose Greenhouse Project store on the Weybourne Road would be run by Waitrose, were expected to go before a council committee later this month. But the timetable has been de-railed by the recent announcement of 19 new planning policies - which officers need to study in depth to see how they affect the supermarket plans. It is now hoped to reschedule a meeting in February to resolve an issue which has dominated and divided the town for years. Tesco has had previous plans turned down at appeal, over fears about the impact on the vibrancy of the existing town centre and criticism of a dull design - but the retail giant has come back with a revised scheme hatched by top architects, and moved slightly closer to main shopping area. The Greenhouse scheme aims to source local produce, use electric buses and delivery vehicles, and be linked to a Norfolk Food academy promoting cookery and food knowledge - but is farther from the town centre, next to the Splash leisure pool. The potential benefits and drawbacks of each plan has been the focus of long and bitter controversy in the community, which has split into campaign groups and factions doing battle through the press and on the internet. Planning Policy Statement 4 aims to “deliver more sustainable patterns of development, reduce the need to travel, especially by car and respond to climate change”, and promote “the vitality and viability of town and other centres as important places for communities”. As reported earlier, it will replace a previous “needs test” with a tougher one looking at the impact of proposals on a range of areas including the effect on the high street, choice, consumer spending, jobs and climate change. The council said it, the applicants and the council's independent retail consultant now needed to see if, and how, the new policies, backed up by a 100-page “practical guidance” document, affect the supermarket applications, which were initially due to be heard on December 17, then on January 21. Head of planning and building control Steve Oxenham said: “We know these decisions are hugely important to the community of Sheringham, and we want to bring this to a conclusion as soon as possible.“The timing of these new government policies is unfortunate, but we will work as quickly as we can to gather all the information we need, hopefully in time for a February meeting.”