Concern over delay to Caister Tesco plans

CONCERNS have been raised about delays in plans for a new Tesco store and �1m village centre in Caister, providing much-needed facilities for village groups.

The supermarket giant’s developer Tamsland was hoping to submit plans for the two storey state-of-the-art Caister Village Centre and superstore in Yarmouth Road, to Great Yarmouth Borough Council in May, but as yet no application has been made.

The project has been beset by delays since it was launched in 2009 and numerous deadlines for planning applications have been missed, including last summer, causing anxiety among parish councillors and the up to 80 Caister groups and sports teams who urgently need a more modern home.

Parish councillor John Myatt said he feared the economic downturn may have caused the delays, speaking at a public exhibition for the village centre plans at the parish council hall on Tuesday.

But added he was confident the scheme would still go ahead.

“It is all out of our hands and over our heads. It is frustrating, but I suppose these complex deals take a long time to complete. Maybe by the time they get it to planning the economy will be fixed,” Mr Myatt said.

The parish council needed to be ready and all its public consultations needed to be completed by the time the plans were eventually submitted, he added.

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Louise Gosling, corporate affairs manager at Tesco said the developer had taken time carrying out consultations to develop “the best proposals for the town.”

She added: “Our plans to build an improved store and new community centre in Caister are being finalised and we look forward to submitting planning application to the borough council in the next couple of months.”

In June, the Mercury reported how the new centre, which will boast a 200-seater main hall, music practice rooms and a cafe, would replace the village’s old and draughty hall and youth centre, with the latter to be demolished to make way for the new building.

A turnout of approximately 10 people visited the hall to see the plans during a special one-and-a-half hour session on Tuesday night and parish councillors were pleased with the response the plans had received.

Mr Myatt said: “I think the response has been pretty good on the whole.”

However, some concerns were raised, particularly about a lack of disabled parking spaces as many of the groups using the centre would have disabled members.

The centre’s car park would provide 40 dedicated spaces and two disabled spaces, but there would be an overspill car park providing up to an extra 20 spaces.

But former Caister parish councillor Eddie Stedeford said: “I would probably say two disabled spaces is not enough. I think we need at least four or five disabled spaces there.”

And Marilyn Attwaters, 61, the chairman of carers group Chatterbox, which is expecting to use the new centre, said: “There are only two designated spots. We feel they could have made the first half a dozen spaces as disabled parking.

“We have got one or two members who would benefit from disabled spaces.

“Some of them have learning difficulties and some have physical disabilities.”

She added vehicles carrying the disabled needed extra space to be able to help get people out with all their equipment, including wheelchairs.

However, overall Mrs Attwaters and the majority of those attending were positive about the new centre, believing it would provide a more comfortable and warm venue compared to the existing facilities.

However, a frustrated Betty McKeon, secretary of Caister Women’s Institute, another group set to use the new centre, said: “I just wish they would pull their fingers out and get on with it.

“When it is done, it will be great, I just wish they would get on with it.”

What do readers think? Are the delays causing frustrations? Write to Letters at The Mercury, 169 King Street, Great Yarmouth NR30 2PA or email editor Letters must include a name and address and contact number and names will only be withheld under certain circumstances.