The dispute in Sheringham is a well-known and long-running one. Residents and planners agree that Sheringham has a vibrant and healthy High Street, which is crucial to its special character and tourist economy, and that a new supermarket could have a negative impact on all of these. Since 2003 residents and campaigners fought off attempts by Tesco to build a store in the town.
Tesco has been seeking planning permission for a store in Sheringham since 1996.
2003 - Tesco submitted an application on its current site in 2003, at the same time as signing a confidential land sale agreement with North Norfolk District Council with a clause preventing the council from selling land for retail development elsewhere.
2004 - After negotations with the council, Tesco's plans were approved at a meeting in January 2004.
2005 - However, the proposals were considered again in September 2005 after a delay during which Tesco disputed the planning conditions that the council were seeking to impose on the store, and after a new report suggesting that there was not enough capacity for all the supermarket applications currently faced across the district. On this basis, the councillors voted 20-0 to refuse the application at the September 2005 meeting.
2006 - Once again there were some planning matters that remained unresolved and in February 2006, Tesco appealed against the council's failure to make a final decision. Residents were dismayed when at a meeting in April 2006, councillors were asked to give their opinion on the application to the Public Inquiry and this time voted in favour of Tesco, despite the decision in September 2005. Councillors had been advised on the costs Tesco winning on appeal, despite this not being a planning matter. It was at this stage that it emerged that the council had been tied by a secret agreement signed by certain council executives with Tesco in 2003, relating to the sale of land and prohibiting the council from promoting an alternative site for development. Read North Norfolk's 6th June 2006 press release and BBC News coverage. Budgens had planning permission for a much smaller development since 2003, but has so far been unable to secure an agreement with the council for the sale of the council-owned land on which they have permission.
In June 2006, Tesco requested that the Planning Inspectorate put the Inquiry on hold for six months while it submitted a new planning application. The Council and the Planning Inspectorate agreed.
2007 - Tesco submitted a new application in February 2007 - see local press coverage and the Council's website for further information on the application.
Councillor's at North Norfolk District Council unanimously, by a vote of 17-0, rejected Tesco's application for a 1,500 sq m store in Sheringham, Norfolk at a meeting on the 22nd November 2007. Please see coverage in the Daily Telegraph and Eastern Daily Press.
Tesco appealed against the failure of the district council to make a decision on its 2003 plans, and refusal of amended 2007 plans.
2008 - A public inquiry was held in July 2008 and on the 8th September 2008, the planning inspector announced that she had upheld an earlier decision to turn down plans for a new store in Sheringham. In her ruling, the inspector said the "vitality, viability and retail function" of the town would be harmed if the development went ahead.
2009 - In April 2009 Tesco held a public consultation over new plans for a store in Sheringham. A local land-owner also put forward plans for pioneering green grocery store.
In August Tesco submitted new plans for a new smaller store of 1,200 sq m. In September Sheringham Town Council voted 10-3 to oppose the Tesco plans. The Town Council opposed the scheme on the basis of inappropriate design, unacceptable traffic impact, loss of housing, detrimental effect on the character and appearance of the town and the impact on the viability and vitality of the town's retail core.
2010 - The applications were due to be considered in January 2010 but new national planning policy (PPS4) meant the applications were considered on 4th March 2010. Councillors approved plans for the eco-friendly Greenhouse Community Project and once again refused proposals for a Tesco in Sheringham. The decision, voted in by a majority of 10 -6, could need to be reconsidered if North Norfolk District Council officers decide it could not be defended in a legal challenge.
In July 2010 Tesco submitted revised plans for its proposed store. Tesco hopes the amendments will address issues raised by councillors as reasons for turning them down at a planning meeting in March. According to Tesco a new application is not necessary and the alterations can be considered by the committee when it sits again.
On 30th September Sheringham's 6,000 residents voted on the Tesco plans in a Parish poll.