Yarmouth employment centre appeal joy

AN historic shopping street in Great Yarmouth has been saved from a threatened mass exodus of disgruntled retailers after plans for an employment centre were dismissed.

On Friday a planning inspector threw out an appeal hoping to overturn a decision by the town’s borough council in July to reject the application for 3-7 Market Row.

And following the news there are signs that the space, recently marketed by the council as one unit and vacant for 18 months, could be sold as four individual shops instead.

Phil Thompson has run the largest store on the thoroughfare, Instant Furniture, for a decade.

He said that there would be delight from shop owners in the area, at least 15 of whom considered selling up if the Broadland Housing Association-backed employment centre was allowed.

“It’s brilliant news and I should hope so too. I’m glad common sense has prevailed. This is a shopping area and I thought it was a terrible idea.”

The employment centre would have offered a job training space and employed a permanent staff of nine.

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Broadland Housing Association had argued that the plans would have been in a convenient central location, with a good layout and disabled access.

However after visiting the spot last month planning inspector Ian Radcliffe agreed with councillors, who had voted against the officer-recommended plan.

In a report he stated that while the proposals would increase footfall, the loss of the units for retail use “would erode the Row as a thoroughfare of independent retailers and the attractive shopping environment this has created.”

Currently, 80pc of the shops in Market Row are retail, and one in 10 of the units is vacant.

The site of 3-7 Market Row has had a troubled history after being devastated by a fire that ravaged the area in 1995.

Mr Radcliffe added there was “no evidence” that the site was the only available location to be used by Broadland Housing Association.

Senior planner at Great Yarmouth Borough Council Dean Minns said: “It is good to see that the committee decision was endorsed by the planning inspector.”

He said the site may not have been promoted in the right way in the past and they would look at marketing it as separate units.

In reaction, Mr Thompson added: “That would be fantastic, and I think they would be more likely to sell.”

Broadland Housing Association declined to comment.