Market Row row prompts trader threat

SHOPOWNERS have threatened to pull their businesses out of a historic Great Yarmouth thoroughfare if plans to build an employment centre are resurrected.

Fears for the commercial future of Market Row and Broad Row have been sparked by a written appeal by Broadland Housing Association after their plans were initially rejected in July.

The application for office space and job training facilities was for 3-7 Market Row and it was turned down by Great Yarmouth Borough Council after councillors went against officer recommendations to approve the plans.

Now, news a site visit by a government planning inspector could herald an overturning of the decision has led to at least 15 traders on The Rows contemplating selling up, with a decision expected in December.

Phil Thompson has run the Instant Furniture shop, the largest on the thoroughfare, for 10 years.

He said if the appeal, which was made late last month, was successful he and the business would be moving away.

Describing it “as the final nail in the coffin” the trader said he thought potential shoppers might be intimidated by those hanging around outside the centre in what is the narrowest point of the lanes.

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These fears follow on from other concerns highlighted in July’s council meeting that what The Rows needed was new shops, rather than a training centre.

Mr Thompson voiced frustration at what he saw as council neglect towards The Rows, adding: “They have this thing where they seem to think that the town centre revolves around the market place, but there’s about 35 shops here. We’ve been forgotten about.”

The housing association has previously argued that the site was perfect for a job training space because it was central, with a good layout and offered good disabled access.

If the appeal is successful, the site would provide space for a permanent team of nine staff.

Paul Savva, who owns the Broad Row Bookshop, said he had spoken to a number who would “seriously contemplate” leaving if the housing association was successful. “Why put a something non-retail in a retail area if it won’t bring the public down here to spend money?” he asked.

Dean Minns, senior planner at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, voiced concern about the traders’ threat to sell up over the site.

He said the council had given sound reasons that should be supported for rejecting the application and the council would be giving a statement to the inspector by next Friday.

The site has stood vacant for two years and was gutted out during the fire that devastated the retail area in 1995.