If four new retail units in Diss get planning permission it could “signal the end” of some of the town’s independent businesses, according to a representative of Diss Heritage Traders.
Marston’s lodged an application to build the non-food units behind the Thatchers Needle pub last year and is set to be decided upon by South Norfolk Council’s development management committee on Wednesday.
The proposal, recently amended to make buildings “more contemporary”, would see three units in one building and one further unit on its own, and provide 189 parking spaces, of which 12 are disabled. South Norfolk Council officers have recommended the plans be approved.
But Peter Hyde, on behalf of Diss Heritage Traders, said the new units appear “low cost” and “bland”, and would increase traffic in the Park Road and Victoria Road area.
“If the application is approved it is likely to attract large multinationals,” he said.
“Four large retail units on Park Road will only encourage customers and visitors away from the historic town centre, which is already a challenge considering some 50,000 visitors go to Tesco and Morrisons a week, with recent surveys showing that half of those visitors never cross the road into the town centre.
The Heritage Triangle contains medieval features, architectural gems and individual shops and restaurants, some of which are the town’s major selling points. Loose those and Diss is stripped of a major assetPeter Hyde, on behalf of Diss Heritage Traders
“The Heritage Triangle contains medieval features, architectural gems and individual shops and restaurants, some of which are the town’s major selling points. Lose those and Diss is stripped of a major asset.”
He said the potential new stores could be in direct competition with independent traders like ironmongers, stationers pet shops and others, who are already battling hard in a tough retail climate.
The Diss Heritage Traders Group was set up in 2014, to be a collective voice for the small traders in the area.
There are about 60 businesses in the triangle, with the majority being small shopkeepers, restaurants and pubs, while a further 20 businesses outside of the triangle have recently been added to their email list.
Diss Town Council has already recommended refusal on the plans, while Diss district councillor, Tony Palmer, has objected to the proposal.