Extra time for Tesco objectors
OBJECTORS to the proposed expansion of Tesco in Stalham have been given extra time to make their views known beyond the standard deadline.Fears that last Monday's official time limit for objections would prevent shopkeepers kept busy by the Christmas and New Year rush and members of the public concentrating on festivities from commenting on the proposals have led the local authority to allow more time.
OBJECTORS to the proposed expansion of Tesco in Stalham have been given extra time to make their views known beyond the standard deadline.
Fears that last Monday's official time limit for objections would prevent shopkeepers kept busy by the Christmas and New Year rush and members of the public concentrating on festivities from commenting on the proposals have led the local authority to allow more time.
Some objectors have accused Tesco of deliberately putting the application in to make the time scheduling difficult, while conceding the company has not done anything wrong. They have also said North Norfolk District Council's stance is admirable in the circumstances.
It is not clear exactly when the deadline will be moved to, with some people being told they have an extra fortnight and others encouraged to register their views before the February 19 council planning meeting which is expected to feature the application on its agenda.
But it is clear that the January 5 deadline, which is four weeks after the application to almost double the size of the current Tesco was formally lodged, will not be strictly adhered to.
Nigel Dowdney, who runs the Stalham Shopper, said: “I gather it was not only objectors and retailers who got on to the council, but also several parish councils which don't meet in time to meet the original deadline.
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“Without a doubt it is Tesco being duplicitous, they are well known for thinking about things very carefully and putting in planning applications at times like this when people are busy with other things. It's not the first time and won't be the last.
“They know that it is a difficult time of year for anyone to respond.”
Mr Dowdney said Tesco were operating within the democratic process, but added: “But they know full well they are precluding lots of people.”
But the district council was to be congratulated for adding some flexibility to the process, said Mr Dowdney.
Tony Ross-Benham, chairman for Stalham Town Council, said a special meeting would be held on January 14 to discuss the plan.
“The district council planning officers have told us they are happy to extend the time limit,” said Mr Ross-Benham.
“We are holding a one agenda item meeting in the town hall to gather views and all are very welcome to attend.”
The meeting will start at 7pm. The town council expects to give its response by the end of the evening, have it typed up the next day and sent to the district council.
Nick Gellatly, Tesco's corporate affairs manager, said, “Our Tesco store is very popular with local people, but we want to improve their shopping experience by adding ranges of goods available in similar stores in other nearby towns.
“Our enhancements will also encourage more local people to shop in Stalham and use the shops and facilities in the High Street rather than driving to other towns.”