Lidl gets Heacham store go-ahead

GV of Stainsby's garage site at Heacham ANL-160215-081029009

GV of Stainsby's garage site at Heacham ANL-160215-081029009

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Proposals for a new Lidl supermarket on the outskirts of Heacham were finally approved by councillors today, six months after they rejected the initial scheme.

A revised plan for the old R J Stainsby garage site, next to the A149, was approved by nine votes to three at a West Norfolk Council planning committee meeting in Lynn this morning.

The £4.5 million project had been turned down by the authority last June, amid concerns over traffic and the design of the building.

But the discount retailer had appealed, arguing the decision was not backed by the views of consultative bodies or the council’s own officers, who had consistently recommended approval.

Lidl’s planning agent, Nick Hardy, said the appeal would be withdrawn if the latest application was approved.

He also pointed out that officers had recommended approval for a fourth time.

And he added: “If permission is refused today, it will be clear to an inspector that officers think there is no reason to dismiss the appeal.”

The company had submitted a revised design proposal, including the use of more locally found building materials, such as carrstone.

It also proposed keep clear markings at the access point to the store and yellow box junction markings at the nearby Lavender traffic lights.

But critics maintained those measures did not go far enough to address their concerns.

Committee member Toby Wing-Pentelow, whose call for a site visit was defeated, said he could not find a single reason to approve the plan.

He said of the design: “They haven’t changed it. The carrstone is putting lipstick on a pig.”

Tony Bubb urged his colleagues to reject the scheme again, arguing the proposed access point contradicted the previous decision to prevent drivers turning right out of The Broadway.

He said he did not believe county roads officials would have accepted such an access if the developer was seeking a large housing estate.

And ward councillor Terry Parish called for traffic calming measures on nearby roads, which he claimed the company had a responsibility to fund.

But Liz Poole, of the Norfolk County Council Highways department, said assessments had shown the proposed layout was safe and drivers would not be able to turn right out of the store if traffic was waiting to turn into the site from the north.

But, in response to a question from committee member Geoffrey Wareham, she admitted they would not be able to monitor how the network performed once the store had been built.

And Mr Wareham said villagers were worried their concerns would simply be ignored in the longer term.

But borough planning director Geoff Hall told members: “You have before you the expert opinion of Norfolk County Council and I would recommend you take that advice quite seriously.”