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Town centres’ shopping survey’s mixed bag of results in north Norfolk

A shopping survey found that while some town centres in north Norfolk were doing well, others needed improvements. This is Holt. Photo:Antony Kelly

A shopping survey found that while some town centres in north Norfolk were doing well, others needed improvements. This is Holt. Photo:Antony Kelly

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2007

A report into shopping habits in north Norfolk has revealed mixed results with some town centres faring well and others in need of improvements.

The North Norfolk Retail & Town Centres’ Uses study is set to be discussed by North Norfolk District Council’s planning policy and built heritage working party on Monday.

And it will inform the preparation of the Local Plan up to 2036.

The report was created by Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners (NLP), and commissioned by the district council.

In gauging how successful town centres were, it found that shop vacancy rates were low in Cromer, Fakenham, Holt, Sheringham, Wroxham/Hoveton and Wells-next-the Sea.

But the shop vacancy rate in North Walsham was significantly above the national average, and Stalham’s vacancy rate was relatively high compared to the other towns.

In summary, it stated that: “The health and vitality of Stalham is more vulnerable than other smaller town centres in north Norfolk and the health and vitality of North Walsham is more vulnerable than other larger town centres in north Norfolk.”

On the positive side, it said that Cromer had maintained an appropriate mix of retail and non-retail uses and that Sheringham had a particularly strong provision of restaurant/cafés.

Wells provided a good range of shops, services and community facilities and Holt “appears to be trading healthily”.

The provision of foodstore and convenience retail was particularly strong in the Cromer/Sheringham area, Fakenham and North Walsham. And Stalham and Hoveton/Wroxham had good provision for towns of their size.

However, the survey found the proportion of charity shops in North Walsham was particularly high, and suggested “the centre would benefit from qualitative improvements, investment and improvements to the retail offer. The re-occupation of vacant units should be the priority in order to enhance the vitality and viability of the town centre”.

It also recommended environmental improvements to the “fragmented” commercial centre in Wroxham/ Hoveton, and said the choice of facilities in Stalham was limited and it “would benefit from qualitative improvements and investment”.

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