Mixed views from traders and townsfolk on Cromer McDonald’s proposal
PUBLISHED: 18:11 18 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:25 18 June 2019
The prospect of a McDonald’s coming to Cromer has sparked a lively debate among residents, shoppers and traders.
Some say the chain will bring jobs and encourage tourism, but others predict it will have a negative impact on independent town centre businesses.
Plans have been submitted by Central England Co-operative to build a restaurant, drive-through and outdoor play area on the eastern part of the Co-op convenience store site, in Middlebrook Way, around 650m from the town centre.
The nearby Holt Road area, which includes Morrisons and Lidl supermarkets, a Homebase, and an Argos, already has a Subway, and has previously been home to a number of failed food outlets.
These include an American-style diner, a Burger King and a bar and restaurant near the town railway station which changed hands a number of times before, after a stint as a nightclub, closing its doors for good in 2015.
The town centre boasts more than 30 independent cafes and restaurants, as well as a Costa Coffee which was the subject of a Chamber of Trade-led petition attracting 1,500 signatures before it opened in August last year.
Chamber of Trade chairman Sam Grout, who owns the Old Rock Shop Bistro, in Hamilton Road, was confident that traders could cope with the competition a McDonald's might bring, but was undecided on whether the arrival of the chain would be a positive or a negative thing for the town.
"Any form of perceived threat to our existing business isn't great but, at the same time, it would be outside the town centre, it's using land that had been left relatively dormant and it would mean jobs and investment in Cromer," he said.
"I have heard a lot more positive than negative talk about it and I do think people would drive to a McDonald's from other towns as it draws people in a way that no other chain can."
In a North Norfolk News and Eastern Daily Press online poll, 66pc of respondents said they would like to see a McDonald's in Cromer and comments on Facebook were equally divided, ranging from: "Devalues Cromer's image in droves," and, "disgusted!", to: "About time! " and, "Welcome news and a great prospect".
McDonald's Cromer: A negative or a positive prospect?
Gillian Day, of the Baguette Shop, in Church Street, said the idea of a McDonald's opening in the town was worrying, particularly as this will be her first summer season since buying the business six months ago.
"Although it's not a massive concern as it would be out of town, what does worry me is the increase in traffic," she said. "Having said that, I think they would do a good breakfast trade with local builders and the youngsters would love it."
Richard Groom, who owns Coffee Therapy, also on Church Street, said the out-of-town location was a plus.
"I don't think a McDonald's would have a negative effect on town businesses and I think it could be a good thing for employment opportunities, and in terms of a national chain being good for Cromer's name," he added.
Josh Wilson, 26, who has worked at Iceland, in the town centre, for three years and regularly eats at local cafes and take-aways, said that although he would probably eat at a McDonald's, he was undecided on the issue.
"I have been weighing it up and, in some ways, it could be a good thing and bring people to the town, but it could also take away business from our independent traders, so I'm sitting on the fence a bit," he said.
Val and Bill Wright, from Stafford, who were spending a week staying at the Hotel de Paris, didn't feel an out-of-town McDonald's would detract from Cromer's "charm".
"We think the town is lovely, it's clean and we love all the little independent shops," Mrs Wright said. "I think people would like a McDonald's, but we wouldn't choose to eat there."
Juliet Jonas, who runs the Jetty Café, in High Street, was worried about the impact a McDonald's could have on her business, which suffered when Costa opened in August last year.
"I eat at McDonald's, so I don't want to be a hypocrite, but it is another food outlet which is going to hit us, she said."
Nadia Hazlehurst, 28, who works at Davies Fish Shop, in Garden Street, occasionally visits McDonald's branches at Wroxham and Norwich Airport. She said: "I think it's a great idea - it's using vacant space, it's bringing extra jobs and, if anything, it could draw people to Cromer from other towns."
Friends Tracey Hall and Trudy Wright, who meet up for coffee at Cafe Main, in Church Street, most days, thought a McDonald's would have very little effect on town food outlets. "I think it is a good thing as it will bring employment and a lot of people don't like fast food, so they would still use the independent cafes," Mrs Hall said.