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Lidl store plan 'would significantly damage' Downham town centre, council report warns

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A discount retailer's plans to build a new supermarket in Downham would damage the town centre and harm the area's character, borough planning officials have warned.

Dozens of members of the public, along with town representatives, have already given their backing to Lidl's plans for a new store off Bexwell Road.

But West Norfolk Council officers have advised the authority's planning committee to reject the scheme when they meet next week.

Lidl's bid for a new store in Downham is being opposed by West Norfolk Council planning officials.
Lidl's bid for a new store in Downham is being opposed by West Norfolk Council planning officials.

Their report said the development is expected to create around 40 jobs and generate around £250,000 in community infrastructure levy payments if it is given the go-ahead.

But it also warned that the impact of the store on the town centre would need to be taken into account.

The report said: "A thorough assessment of the impact has been undertaken by consultants acting on behalf of the council.

"The assessment is that, on balance, there will be a significant adverse impact upon the town centre."

The report said the company had offered a £50,000 payment to help mitigate any impact, but warned there was no project earmarked for such monies to be spent on.

And officials said the plan would harm the area, despite recent approvals of new McDonalds and Starbucks branches plus a care home.

The report said: "The proposal would change the open verdant character of the site through the introduction of a large supermarket with car parking.

"Together with the loss of street trees this would harm the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside which also provides an attractive entrance to Downham Market."

The report from council officials comes just over a year after rival supermarket chain Morrisons warned that its store in Downham could be forced to close if the Lidl plan was given the go-ahead.

But nearly 100 members of the public have written to the council to express support for the application, compared to only 12 who raised objections.

Downham's town council also supported the scheme during a special session in December 2020, although it did call for access to the proposed store to be provided directly from the Bexwell roundabout on the A10.

The application is due to be considered during a planning committee meeting at Lynn's town hall next Monday, April 4.

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