Lidl supermarket plan for Derbyshire town set to be rejected

An artist's impression of the planned Lidl at Long Eaton, Derbyshire
An artist's impression of the planned Lidl at Long Eaton, Derbyshire

Plans for a new supermarket and a DIY supply store in Long Eaton – creating 70 jobs – are set for rejection after being slammed by council planners.

The application, submitted by German supermarket giant Lidl and Clowes Developments, relates to land off Nottingham Road on the former Stadium Industrial Park.

If approved, the plans would see a 1,944 sq m Lidl and a 1,394 sq m DIY retail unit built.

Erewash Borough Council planners say that DIY retailer Wickes has already agreed terms with the landowner.

However, borough council planners have recommended that the plans for the 4.15-acre site are rejected at a meeting on Wednesday, October 23.

The council says that its policy for the site is for homes “to re-house the 173 households who will be made homeless by the demolitions currently proposed by HS2 Ltd”.

The application says that 40 jobs would be created at Lidl and a further 30 at Wickes.

A report written by Indigo on behalf of the applicants, says: “The application proposals provide a deliverable and viable development opportunity to create a high quality and well-designed scheme on a brownfield site in a highly sustainable location.

“The proposal will enhance the site and surrounding area and make a positive contribution to the local economy.

“A derelict, brownfield site within the urban area will be re-mediated and brought back into productive use.

“The proposal will not have a significant and adverse impact on Long Eaton town centre.”

The Nottingham Road site, close to Kwik Fit, has been derelict since 2014 when the former industrial park was demolished.

Borough council officers say that demolition was carried out “without authorisation, leaving stockpiled materials”.

Previous plans for the site involved 54 houses. These were approved by the borough council but have now lapsed.

Asda has objected to the proposals, saying they “represents a significant threat to the vitality and viability of the town centre” and that the impact on the town centre has been “underestimated”.

Dozens more residents have written letters of support in relation to the scheme compared to those who object.

Supporting residents say that the current site is an “eyesore” and that the area needs more job opportunities and has seen a loss of local facilities.

Meanwhile, objecting residents say that traffic near the site is already “problematic” and that Long Eaton has “sufficient” supermarkets and food outlets – with another Lidl in Chilwell around a mile away.

They also fear the plans would “negatively affect small businesses”.

In total, the site would have 207 public parking spaces, including 12 disabled spots and eight parent and child spaces. A separate staff car park would have 11 spaces.

Borough council officers slammed the application in an extensive 13-page rebuttal.

Recommending refusal, they wrote: “The applicants further consider that town centre convenience shops will be specialist retailers and not vulnerable to competition from a new Lidl.

“The town centre supports three ‘corner’ shops, two butchers, two bakers and a greengrocer.

“The thrice weekly town market also supports three more greengrocers, two more bakers, two fishmongers and another butcher.

“It is considered that a Lidl store will compete directly with these traders, and risks wiping out one or more categories of convenience trader in the town centre.

“That would result in a qualitative reduction in vitality and viability of the town centre, that could trigger a further spiral of decline.

“The town market is considered to be especially vulnerable. Convenience retailers are the anchors of that market, and their loss would effectively spell the end of viable weekly markets.

“There is still a risk that a non DIY operator of the proposed secondary store could act as a category killer, removing all of one kind of goods from the town centre to the detriment of its vitality and viability.”

Council officers say that Long Eaton town centre is “demonstrably in decline” and has lost nearly a third of its comparison goods, such as clothing and footwear, and almost doubled its vacancies since 2006.

Officers say that the developers conceded that the only reason that both a supermarket and a large retail unit have been applied for is because the site was “too big for Lidl on its own”.

They wrote: “The link between the Lidl store and the DIY store is equally a marriage of convenience, as is apparent from the fact that both the named retailers are rarely, if ever, found co-located on the same site, and the logical rarity of bread, milk and a sack of cement featuring on the average weekly shopping list.”

Officers also wrote: “The applicants have been unreasonable in failing to offer any flexibility in the scale or format of their proposals.”

Council staff suggested that the applicants move their proposed DIY stores elsewhere, including the former Galaxy Cinema, Armstrong’s Mill near the bottom of High Street and the former Focus DIY store in Main Street.

Planners also say that when the developer changed its plans from two separate retail stores to one large Wickes store, it made the cinema site non-viable.

Council planners say that the developers assessed the mill and former Focus sites. They claim the developers said the mill site was too small for either the Wickes store or Lidl.

Officers say that the applicants could consider extending the existing building on the mill site and say that it is “both available and suitable for redevelopment for either the Lidl store or the DIY store”.

They say that the applicants claim the former Focus site is being sold for £1.5 million, which “they consider makes it an unviable option”.

Officers said: “It would be easier to assess that argument if the applicants had been forthcoming about how much they are paying for their application site, but when asked to share that information they refused to do so.

“Nevertheless, in a market economy it can not be accepted that a property for sale for retail purposes is not viable for retail.

“If planning permissions were to be granted on that basis, then all new development would be on farming land which is the cheapest, and thus most viable, option.

“In summary, both the Armstrong’s Mill and Westgate Retail Park sites are suitable and available for the proposed developments.

“Under national planning policy the applicants should pursue their development ambitions on those sites, thus supporting the vitality and viability of Long Eaton town centre instead of undermining it.

“As they have chosen not to do so, their current application should be refused.”

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service