Developers launch fresh bid to win support for hotel and shop plans
- Credit: Marc Betts
A national pub chain that wants to build a 27-bedroom hotel and retail units in Diss has launched a fresh consultation in a bid to allay concerns over its impact on the town.
Marstons, which owns the existing Thatchers Needle pub, aims to build on land to the rear of the pub in Park Road, behind the town's bus station.
The new 21-day consultation is an attempt to address concerns that have been raised about the scale of the proposed development, landscaping and trees and the impact the new shops would have on businesses on the town's high street.
A report prepared by retail consultants GVA for South Norfolk District 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'.
The pub chain's consultation comes after they submitted a new statement in support of their latest planning application proposing conditions that would limit the size of the shops and specify types of goods that could not be sold.
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Under the suggested conditions the shops would be a minimum size of 465sq.m to dissuade small traders from relocating from the town centre, while the sale of clothing and footwear, jewellery and watches, health and beauty, cosmetics and pharmacy products, books, CDs and DVDs, greeting cards and stationery, and food and convenience goods would be prevented.
The statement adds: 'Marstons have invested heavily in the design of both the retail and hotel buildings, 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'.'
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Diss Town Council is among those who have raised objections to the plans over the retail impact on the town and concerns over traffic.
Eric Taylor, the council's chair of planning, said: 'Whilst I think many will applaud Marstons agreement to conditions to limit what is sold and also the sub-division of units, this still concerns me. Once built it would not be too difficult if the units remained empty or it became difficult to find replacement clients, for an application to be made for a change of conditions.'
Planning permission for a 60-bed hotel and public house on the site was granted in 2011. But while the Thatchers Needle pub has been open since 2013, the hotel plans were abandoned.
Marstons bid to build four non-food retail units on the land was turned down in 2015, and again on appeal in 2016.