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B&Q and Morrisons plan Norwich store tie-up

Norwich could be set for yet another superstore, after Morrisons lodged plans for a new store which would create 300 jobs.

It has emerged the supermarket giant wants to open a store in Hall Road in Tuckswood - less than half a mile from a site earmarked for an Asda store is due to be built.

Planning permission is being sought from Norwich City Council to reduce the size of the existing B&Q store at Neatmarket and make alterations to the building to allow Morrisons to move in. Much of the building is currently empty.

While nobody from Morrisons was available to comment on the proposals, the submission to the city council from agents Peacock and Smith, reveals the thinking behind the application.

The submission states: “This planning application is prepared to support the retention of the B&Q business within south Norwich. The DIY market has suffered due to the economic downturn and, as such, a strategic response is necessary to ensure that B&Q can continue to remain within south Norwich and trade in a successful and viable manner to meet both current and future customer needs.

“Accordingly, B&Q has considered it necessary to reduce the occupation of floorspace at the existing warehouse store to reduce its financial exposure and in doing so has partnered with Morrisons to create an enhanced economic profile at this site which will increase job numbers and spend to the local area.”

The B&Q store has been there since 2006 and employs 50 people. The changes, if agreed, would see its floorspace cut from 55,000 square feet to just over 37,000 square feet. Morrisons would take up 66,600 square feet, of which just under 39,300 square feet would be available for retail sales.

The agents add: “Once converted, the Morrisons store will create up to 300 new jobs, which will comprise a variety of skilled and semi-skilled posts.”

Morrisons, in a separate application, has asked the city council for permission to sell alcohol from the store between 6am and midnight every day of the week.

The new store would be barely a third of a mile away from the new Asda store which is proposed for Harford Place, off Hall Road.

That store was approved in December 2012, just a few months after an identical application was rejected.

Asda bosses said the store would create 300 jobs, with a further 100 on the rest of the site, which would include a gym, other shops, a pub and a community centre. Work is due to start on the site this year.

Decisions are due next week on other two new superstores on the fringes of Norwich.

Norwich City Council has objected to proposals for a £6m Next Home and Garden Store at Costessey, near the Longwater Retail Park.

City Hall officers said if South Norfolk Council’s planning committee gives the 6,663sq m store permission when it meets on Wednesday, that will set a precedent which could see more stores at Longwater look to move away from selling ‘bulky goods’ and compete directly with the city centre.

But consultants brought in by South Norfolk Council concluded the new store would not have a “significant adverse impact” on the city centre. Officers at South Norfolk are recommending approval.

And the city council also raised concerns about the impact on other businesses of a proposed superstore in Taverham.

Broadland District Council will decide on Wednesday whether to allow a superstore to be built as part of proposals for land near Taverham Nursery Centre, off Fir Covert Road.

Morrisons had been linked with that site too, but developers had said no supermarket would be lined up until planning permission was granted.

Source : Dan Grimmer - EADP 24

04 January 2014

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