In a highly controversial move, ASDA has applied to change the conditions it was granted to build a city store in Norwich.
The changes include doubling the number of retail units from the original 4 up to 8 on the site of the old Bally shoe factory, just off Hall Road. It is also retracting it initial pledge to include an on-site gym that would be available for use by the general public.
The proposed changes, which have been submitted as an amendment to the already controversial plan, have been described by the civic watchdog, The Norwich Society, as not a minor alteration and should be considered to be a new application all together.
Back in December 2012, the plans were given the green light by Norwich City Council for the development of a 5,796 square metre ASDA superstore, a gym, pub, community centre, 334 space car park and a number of other shops on the derelict site. With all the construction of these new retail and food outlets, there was also the promise of 400 jobs. However, as progress on the site was slow, it has since emerged that this is due to ASDA asking the city council to change the original plans that it was granted permission to carry out.
Mark Underwood, from Deloitte, said that
Asda is currently in negotiations with a commercial gym operator. The operator in question is likely to require the gym to be open 24-hours-a-day seven-days-a-week and provides its members with an excellent range of brand new cardiovascular and fitness machines for a low monthly membership fee, which is paid by direct debit with no membership contract.
However, the gym operator in question has also advised ASDA that it would be unable to comply with clause in the planning permission that states it would need to grant community access to the gym for at least 20 hours per week at a charge of at least 50% less than the usual price.
Mr Underwood added
The operator’s membership rate is likely to be around £10 per month pre-opening and from around £18 a month post opening. A 50% reduction (less than £5 per month pre-opening) would make the operator’s offer unviable. Furthermore, the operator has also advised that they cannot comply with the clause which requires the gym to be used by local schools and colleges for not less than 10 hours per week free of charge. Due to the operator’s proposed 24-hour business concept, it would not be practical to allow schools/colleges free access. In addition, members must be aged 18 plus, with a bank account.