VIDEO: Lidl unveils £4 million Heacham store plan

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Discount retailer Lidl has unveiled more details of its multi-million pound plans to build a new store on the edge of Heacham.

An exhibition of the scheme for the site of the former Stainsby garage, which managers expect will cost around £4 million to develop, was held at the village’s sports and social club on Tuesday afternoon.

And the proposal, which the company says would create 40 new jobs if it is completed, already appears to have won the backing of many villagers.

One resident, Janet Cole, even declared: “It isn’t happening quick enough.”

Colin Rimmer, Lidl’s regional head of property, said the site had been assessed as being suitable for a new store and reaction to the plans had been “very positive.”

He said: “This area is underserved for supermarkets and we know from research that a lot of people travel some distance to our stores in King’s Lynn and Fakenham.”

A planning application is likely to be submitted this autumn. If approved, the store is likely to open in 2017.

The branch would also be one of the first in Britain to be built to a new design specification, which is intended to make the building feel lighter and more airy than other sites.

Resident Nigel Hewitt said many would welcome competition for the village’s existing Tesco Express and Co-op stores, but expressed concern the development would make the area feel more urban.

He said: “I came here because it was a village. To come here up the A149 and see the neon lights wouldn’t feel right for me.”

Others were worried about the potential impact of the scheme on traffic flows, particularly on the A149, which is often heavily congested during the summer season.

Mr Rimmer said that had been the “only concern” raised by members of the public during the session.

While slip roads and a roundabout have been put forward as solutions, he said a firm plan has still to be developed.

He added: “What we need to do now is go away, do detailed analysis of how a site like this would work, assess the local network and come up with a solution.”

But Jo Raby said she was confident an appropriate solution would be found.

She said: “There’s already a Keep Clear sign on the site which the public have abided by for years and years.

“They’re not going to put a store where they can’t get people in and out.”

Supporters pointed out that several businesses, including the garage and a cleaning company, had operated from the site simultaneously in the past.

Meanwhile, Norfolk County Council officials have confirmed the store chain has yet to discuss its proposals with them.

A spokesman said: “It’s too early for us to give a highways authority view of this proposal.

“The traffic generated by major developments is always an important planning issue and the County Council will give this careful consideration once a planning application has been submitted to the borough council.

“The planning procedures will also provide an opportunity for local people to register their views.”

The company has also confirmed that cycle racks would be provided if the new store is built.

And a pedestrian access point is also proposed, in order to enable people living nearby to walk to the store.

Our video shows the site where Lidl hope to build the new store.