Local campaigners have triumphed over the might of a supermarket giant. On 22 November last year, North Norfolk District Council voted unanimously to turn down Tesco's application to build a supermarket in Sheringham...
This is a real victory for local shops and the independent high street. It is a decision for which CPRE and others have been campaigning for more than 10 years. The saga has even seen recent revelations of secret negotiations between Tesco and the council's previous chief executive. Sheringham is the only settlement of its size in Norfolk that still has none of the big four supermarkets. According to the local chamber of commerce, Tesco's arrival would have forced over 10% of local businesses to close within a year of the store opening.
Local opposition groups, including CPRE Norfolk, have led a longstanding, well-organised and very persistent campaign. CPRE was particularly involved in tracking the various planning applications and making a reasoned case to planning officers. Giving evidence to councillors, CPRE showed that the evidence presented by Tesco's retail consultants could not be relied upon. Large stores are the main customers of retail consultants, who therefore cannot afford to come down heavily against their clients' plans.
Tesco is now appealing against the decision, so the fight is not yet over.
CPRE's report The Real Choice, published in 2006, shows how damaging supermarkets can be to local economies and how market towns and their surrounding villages benefit from a wider range of smaller retail outlets.