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Fresh consultation over shop plans in Diss

Thatchers Needle, Diss
Thatchers Needle, Diss

A new consultation has been launched over plans to build a 27-bedroom hotel and retail units in Diss.

South Norfolk Council is to hold the consultation after receiving additional detail from the developer.

Marstons, which owns the Thatchers Needle pub, wants to build on land at the rear of the pub in Park Road, which lies behind the town’s bus station.

The new consultation aims to address concerns about the scale of the proposed development, landscaping and the impact the new shops would have on existing businesses in the town centre.

A report by retail consultants GVA for South Norfolk Council earlier this year concluded that the proposed retail units were likely to have a “significant adverse impact upon the vitality and viability of Diss town centre and on existing investment”.

A new statement by the developer proposes conditions that would limit the size of the shops and specify types of goods that could not be sold.

Under the conditions, the shops would be a minimum size of 465 square metres to dissuade small traders from relocating from the town centre.

The sale of clothing and footwear, jewellery and watches, health and beauty cosmetics, pharmacy products, books, CDs and DVDs, greeting cards and stationery, food and convenience goods would not be allowed.

“Marstons has invested heavily in the design of both the retail and hotel buildings,” the statement says.

“However, a development that is also viable and attractive to the retail market is of critical importance.

“This is to ensure that the development actually contributes to the retail offer in Diss, rather than becoming a white elephant.”

Planning permission for a 60-bed hotel and public house on the site was granted in 2011. The Thatchers Needle pub has been open since 2013, but the hotel plans were later abandoned. An attempt by Marstons to build four non-food retail units on the land was turned down in 2015, and again on appeal in 2016.

At a meeting of Diss Town Council last Wednesday, councillors agreed to stand by its original objection to the plans.

Eric Taylor said he felt the scale of the retail development was still too large and conditions may not be enforced.

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