South Norfolk MP says non-retail units appeal in Diss should be dismissed

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon says a planning appeal over four non-food shops in Diss must be turned down — if residents, businesses and developers are to have confidence in the planning system.

The planning appeal into Marston’s application for the units, behind the Thatcher’s Needle pub in Park Road, opened on Wednesday and closed later that day, with a planning inspector, who will make the final decision, set to make a site visit.

Thatchers Needle - Diss ANL-150807-180702009

Thatchers Needle - Diss ANL-150807-180702009

The initial planning application was turned down by South Norfolk Council in March on the grounds of scale and design. The bid had also drawn concern over its potential impact on traffic, and drawing people away from the future town centre Heritage Triangle area.

Mr Bacon said a lack of an impact assessment on the effects to the existing town centre went against South Norfolk Council’s Local Plan. His statement read: “The proposal being considered by this appeal is now for a non-food retail offer and unsurprisingly many local residents and businesses are concerned about what this development will mean for Diss town centre and for local shops.

“It is extremely difficult to see how any balanced impact assessment would not demonstrate very clearly that these four proposed units would pull shoppers towards the southern end of the largely pedestrianised town centre.

“This in turn would undermine all the hard work that has gone into transforming and reviving the town’s traditional centre at the other end of the primary shopping area.”

It is extremely difficult to see how any balanced impact assessment would not demonstrate very clearly that these four proposed units would pull shoppers towards the southern end of the largely pedestrianised town centre

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon

Mr Bacon said it was “almost unbelievable” that South Norfolk Council had not made Marston’s complete an official impact assessment on what effect the new stores might have on the town centre, which is its own planning policy. He said it was surprising set against the context of the £400,000 of tax payers’ money the council has put in to help make the Heritage Triangle Project a success.

The hearing continues.