WISBECH: Shock threat to new shops and cinema complex if new application is not approved

PUBLISHED: 17:28 12 November 2008 | UPDATED: 08:43 02 June 2010

THE new Cromwell Retail Park development in Wisbech could be scrapped if planners refuse permission to change the use of three more shop units, developers have warned. The park – due to include a cinema and bowling alley – already has permission for a num

THE new Cromwell Retail Park development in Wisbech could be scrapped if planners refuse permission to change the use of three more shop units, developers have warned.

The park - due to include a cinema and bowling alley - already has permission for a number of retail units to be used for the sale of DIY goods, pet supplies, sports and leisure goods.

But now developers want three more units to be used for general retail, rather than bulky goods - and say "the wider scheme's delivery is dependent on the small variation now sought."

"Securing occupiers for the remaining units will ensure the release of the necessary finance to enable construction work to commence, and for the retail and leisure facility to be finally delivered," says a report from developers, to be put before Fenland District Council's planners next week.

Developers say that "challenging times" in the retail sector have left the bulky goods sector particularly badly affected. That has led to the need to attract a broader range of shops to the site.

But council planning officers are so far resisting the change of planning permission for the three units - saying not enough evidence has been put forward to show that the change of permission is needed to secure the development. They are recommending refusal, claiming that the units would have a detrimental effect on trading in Wisbech town centre, cutting trade by 17 per cent. Officers also say the three units on the former Wisbech Stadium site that already have unrestricted retail permission are enough to satisfy any need for such units.

They also point out that permission for a new unit at the Belgrave Retail Park across the road was recently turned down, partially because of its feared impact on town centre trade.

Developers claim the proposed retail units at Cromwell Park "would not be sufficient to threaten Wisbech town centre's vitality and viability," and the wider range of stores would help reduce the amount of shopping currently undertaken in competing markets at King's Lynn and Peterborough.

The planning application is already on the agenda for this month's planning meeting, but developers have asked for the item to be deferred so more evidence can be provided.


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