Supermarket scheme is given the green light by one vote despite Ashby traffic concerns - after fiery planning meeting

By Graham Hill

10th Jul 2024 | Local News

How the new Ashby Lidl is intended to look after Ashfield House has been demolished. Image: Lidl
How the new Ashby Lidl is intended to look after Ashfield House has been demolished. Image: Lidl

Lidl has tonight (Wednesday) been given the go-ahead to build a new supermarket in Ashby - by the narrowest of margins.

The national budget chain will now demolish the Ashfield House office block in Resolution Road to make way for the new store.

North West Leicestershire District Council's planning committee considered the application again after last month's meeting was deferred in an attempt to clarify a number of issues.

But an acrimonious meeting ended with a tied vote - five for and five against - when it came to granting planning permission.

It was then decided by the committee chair, Cllr Russell Boam, who gave the casting vote after voting for the scheme to go ahead.

The new Lidl will be sited on Resolution Road following the demoliton of the existing Ashfield House building. Photo: Ashby Nub News

But there was then a dispute at the end of the meeting with Ashby councillor Dave Bigby hoping to discuss the 106 agreement - which would see Lidl make a financial contribution to the town.

It is estimated that Lidl would take around £1million worth of business away from the town centre.

Cllr Bigby said he wanted the financial contribution to be discussed separately after planning had been granted - something he felt had been agreed earlier.

Ashby councillor Dave Bigby pushed for a financial contribution from Lidl. Photo: Ashby de la Zouch Town Council

But Cllr Boam said it was not possible as Lidl had already claimed there was no specific scheme they could finance - even though it had been suggested last month that a new footpath from the Money Hill estate to the town centre could be funded.

There was a clear split among the committee about how the decision should go - despite the District Council report recommending approval.

Cllr Bigby insisted the sequential test - look at alternative sites for the supermarket - had not been conducted properly.

He suggested that the A511 roundabouts at the junctions with either the new Money Hill estate or Smisby Road would be better suited.

But the reasons given were that they were not yet available and had not been allocated for retail.

Cllr Bigby also described estimates that the new store would only account for new trips to the area as 'ridiculous'.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Lidl will now be built next door to the existing Tesco, and just a few hundred yards from Aldi, B&M and M&S.

Cllr John Legrys said he was 'appalled' by the updated report, describing it as 'unbalanced' and 'biased'.

He added it was a 'take it or leave it' report.

But he also made a point of saying there is no corruption in the local planning system.

Cllr Boam said he was 'disappointed' by some of Cllr Legrys' comments.

But Cllr Nigel Smith, who has a business in Ashby, says he uses the Nottingham Road junction regularly and said it was a 'nightmare' and the traffic was 'unbelievable'.

The site plan for the new Lidl supermarket. Image: Lidl

It was pointed out that Leicestershire County Council Highways had said they raised no objections to Lidl's application.

Cllr Boam added: "There seem to be a few highways experts here who know more than our highway experts."

Council officer Dylan Jones said it was not their job to speak to landowners about alternative sites - adding that refusal on the grounds of highways issues would 'not be defensible if Lidl appealed.

Cllr Ray Morris supported the scheme and said he felt he report was balanced.

He said: "Lidl will not lead to more traffic, it will rearrange the pie between the supermarkets.

"On this occasion, Highways have got it right.

"Ashby town centre shopping is a different experience altogether.

"I can't see where some of the complaints are coming from."

But Cllr Peter Moult added: "I can't see in the new report where concerns have been addressed.

"We have another development, Money Hill phase two, which will make situation a lot worse.

"This is part of where you build an Aldi, then Lidl say, 'We'll build one next to you. The Sequential Test is a joke and has not been taken seriously.

"We asked them to contribute, and they've refused that as well."

Cllr Morris added: "There is a McVitie's entrance as well if you want to avoid the roundabout, sometimes you have to adjust your journeys or go at off-peak times."

     

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