South Norfolk MP says Marston’s Diss appeal rejection an ‘early Christmas present’ to independent traders

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon

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South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon says Marston’s non-food retail unit appeal being dismissed is an “early Christmas present” for Diss’s independent traders.

The national pub chain had initially applied for planning permission in March for land for four stores behind the Thatcher’s Needle pub in Park Road, but their bid was turned down by South Norfolk Council.

Diss Town Leader Graham Minshull

Diss Town Leader Graham Minshull

And their appeal to that decision has been dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate.

Planning Inspector Amanda Blicq said in the decision report the development could have a “detrimental effect” on the “vitality and viability of the existing businesses” in the town.

Mr Bacon had argued last month a lack of an impact assessment on the effects to the existing town centre went against South Norfolk Council’s Local Plan.

“This decision will be an early Christmas present for the many independent traders in Diss who had feared that these retail units would have meant a very unhappy New Year,” he said.

Words are important and if residents, businesses and developers are to have confidence in the planning system, then local planning policies must mean what they say.

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon

“South Norfolk Council and Marston’s tried to argue that there was no need to assess the impact these units would have on Diss town centre, even though the council’s own policies clearly stated that a retail assessment would be required.

“Words are important and if residents, businesses and developers are to have confidence in the planning system, then local planning policies must mean what they say.

“I am grateful that the inspector agreed with me that a retail assessment should have been produced.”

Diss Town Council Leader Graham Minshull said the council was “pleased” with the outcome, and added there was now an opportunity to achieve a “high-quality” development on the site, which would add “real value” to the town.

Thatchers Needle - Diss ANL-150807-180702009

Thatchers Needle - Diss ANL-150807-180702009

“We support development which will improve the quality of life for our community,” he said.

“We were concerned this development would not achieve this with its proposed large warehouse-style sheds representing a poor-quality design on our main transport route, further congesting traffic and swamping the already fragile town centre economy.”

The news has attracted a largely negative response on the Diss Express Facebook page so far.

Kevin Jon Lock commented: “Pity! Was looking forward to possibly seeing better top end shops coming into Diss instead of another charity shop opening or another betting shop!”

Jamie Orford added: “We need high end clothes shops.”

The Diss Express has contacted Marston’s for comment.

Join the debate at the Diss Express Facebook page by visiting www.facebook.com/dissexpress