Lidl surprise for Heacham as discount chain unveils plan for new store

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Discount supermarket chain Lidl has announced plans to develop a new store on the outskirts of Heacham.

Officials say dozens of new jobs could be created if the store, which is proposed for the current site of the former Stainsby garage on Lynn Road, is given the go-ahead.

And an exhibition of the company’s proposals will take place at the village’s social club, on Station Road, next Tuesday, August 25, between 3 and 7pm.

A company spokesman said: “We look forward to talking through our plans with local residents.

“The store will be of the newest and most sophisticated specification.

“We also hope the development will bring 40 new full and part-time jobs to the area.”

Although a formal planning application has yet to be submitted, leaflets promoting the scheme and exhibition have been delivered to residents in in Heacham and nearby villages that could be served by the store.

They say the store would offer 129 free car parking spaces, including six for disabled customers and three for parents with children.

But one of the main issues is likely to be the impact on traffic flows on the A149, particularly as the site is close to the traffic lights at the junction with Lynn Road and the B1454.

Borough councillor Peter Colvin said: “Primarily, anything that brings employment to Heacham, I don’t disagree with.

“My main concern is with traffic management on the A149 and I think a lot of people have got the same concern.”

In an email to the Lynn News, Snettisham resident Mike Powell said traffic was often at a “standstill” on the A149 on summer weekends.

He added: “Another supermarket will take business away from Heacham and Hunstanton.”

But Hunstanton councillor Richard Bird said he did not believe traffic delays caused by the development would be any worse than those created by the traffic lights at peak times.

He added that it was vital to bring new employment opportunities to the area, which has some of the highest unemployment rates in the borough.

He said: “If someone comes to me and says they’re going to employ 40 people in an area where we have a bad unemployment situation, I’m all for it.”

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham has also given the plans a “cautious welcome.”

He said a commercial development was more appropriate for the site than a housing scheme.

He also suggested that, even if some residents are worried about a potential loss of trade for existing village businesses, many of the shoppers who use the new store would be travelling to or from the coast.

But he said entry and exit slip roads were likely to be needed, adding: “They have got to get the traffic management right.”