B&M set to move into proposed Thetford retail park despite fears at loss of employment land
- Credit: Archant
Major retailer B&M is set to move into a proposed new retail park - despite fears it would lead to a major loss of land for high-skilled employment.
The six terrace retail units planned for the former Viking site, at the junction of London Road and Caxton Way, would create 80 full-time and between 100 and 150 part-time jobs, with one unit likely to be occupied by B&M.
Known as the Breckland Retail Park, there will also be a standalone building which will be used as restaurant space.
But concerns have been raised about the “loss of a major employment site”.
The nearly five-acre site is identified by the Breckland Employment Growth Study as a key site to protect for employment use because the town sits on the Cambridge Norwich Technology Corridor.
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A report ahead of a Breckland Council planning meeting over the site states that if the retail park application is accepted, the “opportunity for superior, higher skilled, better paid employment for our growing number of residents and future workforce will be lost”.
The site has been vacant since 2009. In 2016, the former Tulip and Thermos factory buildings were demolished.
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District and town councillor Mark Robinson said the application is positive for the town.
“It was marked for industrial land for 10 years with no takers,” he said.
“We need to move with the times and I think it will of benefit to have larger retailers coming into the town to create jobs and opportunities.
“I see it as a positive, especially as we are losing companies like Multiyork.”
He added: “It will draw people into the town. We need to offer people more of what they want and this will go some way to doing that.”
Another issue raised is the effect the new retail shops would have on the town centre.
A recommendation would be put in place by the district council where by retailers with a shop in the town centre would not be able to move to the site within a certain time period.
Access to the site will be via London Road. A cycleway to the Forest Retail Park, pedestrian crossing and a bus stop are proposed.