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Friday25 July 2014

Norfolk town puts rival plans to vote

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Challenge to Wilkinson Eyre’s Tesco

Competing architectural visions for a Norfolk seaside town are to be put to a public vote in an increasingly bitter battle over a proposed Tesco.

Amid accusations in Sheringham of dirty tricks including slashed tyres and lobbying letters written by apparently fictitious residents, the council is holding a “parish poll” on whether to back the Wilkinson Eyre-designed Tesco, or an alternative drawn up by LSI Architects.

The retail giant has been trying to open a store in the town for more than a decade but has seen two applications turned down at public inquiry on design grounds.

Two years ago, it turned to Wilkinson Eyre to design a bespoke store only to see local businessman and landowner Clive Hay-Smith approach the council with plans for a more “sustainable” alternative – LSI’s Greenhouse Community Project, which is for a different site but includes a 975sq m supermarket.

The two developments, which both include a community centre and varying quantities of housing, have split the community.

“The only other scheme that I can think of that has so divided a town is the Berlin wall,” said Rupert Kitchen, a partner at LSI.

LSI’s scheme includes wall-cladding made from hemp and recycled construction materials. It would also involve a food academy and training restaurant.

Wilkinson Eyre’s 1,175sq m scheme, meanwhile, includes a distinctive zig-zag glass entrance canopy and a pedestrian plaza.

North Norfolk District Council’s planning committee provisionally over-ruled their officers’ recommendation to approve the Tesco in March. The planning committee will make its final decision on October 12 after the poll. The non-legally binding referendum takes place on September 30.

No one from Wilkinson Eyre or Tesco was available to comment.

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