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Lidl claims strong support for Downham store plan

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A discount retailer has claimed overwhelming public support for its plans to build a new supermarket on the edge of Downham.

Lidl has now lodged formal proposals to develop land off Bexwell Road, having initially revealed its intention to build a new store ahead of a consultation exercise in October.

The chain, which already has stores in Lynn, Heacham and Fakenham, says its Downham plan will create around 40 new jobs.

Lidl has submitted plans for a new store on the edge of Downham.
Lidl has submitted plans for a new store on the edge of Downham.

And documents submitted as part of its application to West Norfolk Council suggest plenty of public enthusiasm for the scheme.

A statement of community involvement said more than 800 people had responded to the chain's consultation, with 743 answering the question of whether they supported the store proposal.

Of those, 91 per cent said they were in favour with only five per cent against, the document claims.

It continued: "It is considered that the principle of the proposed development is acceptable and supported by the local community.

"The responses received clearly demonstrate that the majority of local residents support the proposed development and consider that it will be a benefit to the local area."

The Downham plan is part of a £1.5 billion nationwide expansion plan for the supermarket chain, which last week announced it would be paying back around £100 million in business rates relief to the Government as it was not needed.

The store would offer around 1,400 square metres of floor space and parking for almost 140 vehicles.

But the application may well still prove contentious as it is close to the proposed site of new McDonald's and Starbucks outlets, which were approved by the borough council in June despite strong local opposition.

Access to the new Lidl store is envisaged via a new junction off Bexwell Road.

Consultations on the application run until December 21. Officials have set a target date of mid-February for a decision to be reached.

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