Tesco thwarted over Norfolk supermarket

Tesco today lost a controversial bid to site a supermarket in the centre of Sheringham in the latest twist in a decade-long battle by campaigners to resist the expansion of Britain’s biggest supermarket into the Norfolk resort.

Councillors on North Norfolk District Council rejected a plan for a store, even though it had been supported by the authority’s planning officials. Town councillors in Sheringham had opposed the store on Cromer Road on the grounds that it would harm the look and tradition of the town, increase traffic jams and hurt local independent traders.

Instead, North Norfolk District Council approved an edge-of-town community store proposed by local landowner Clive Hay-Smith that will have allotments and a food academy. In a blow to Tesco’s corporate prestige, the environmentally-friendly , the Greenhouse Project will be run in partnership with Waitrose.

Tesco, which has 30 per cent of the UK grocery market, has been fighting for the right to build a store in Sheringham since 1996 and launched a legal challenge to council’s rejection of its plans in 2007. In September 2008, planning inspectors backed the council, saying a 1,500 sq m store would jeapardise the “vitality, viability and retail function” of the historic resort. The supermarket submitted plans for a smaller store last August.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We're surprised by this decision. Planning officers made it clear that the Waitrose application would be detrimental to Sheringham town centre and local shops. The councillors’ decision is at odds with Government planning policy to protect and ensure the vitality of town centres.”

Friends of the Earth's food campaigner Helen Rimmer described the decision as “fantastic news” for the people and businesses of Sheringham.

“Tesco controls a third of the UK’s grocery market and communities up and down the country are fighting back against its takeover of our towns and cities,” she said.

“It is now vital that the Government and local authorities bring in new policies to support independent shops and the local economy to give communities a genuine choice about where to shop.”