MP and town council support campaign against Lidl's expansion

Opposition is building to a discount retailer's plans to demolish a local gym and their existing store so they can replace it with a new larger store.

Over 250 letters of objection have been received to Lidl's proposal to build a new foodstore at Summerfields Village Centre - adjacent to their existing store, on the site currently occupied by the energi Fitness Club.

Campaigners have received support from Tatton MP Esther Vey who has written to Cheshire East Council to raise her concerns about the application on behalf of the considerable number of her Constituents who have contacted her.

She wrote "The planning policies being used to support this application appear not to be relevant where a store is being relocated within an area and only apply for a brand new store arriving for the first time on a site and in several areas the development is contrary to policies contained in the new Cheshire East Local Plan.

"The Macclesfield Borough plan references this location as a 'local centre'. Within the Macclesfield Borough plan, as a 'local centre', there needs to be a proven need for the development and I don't believe that case has been made. Lidl are already in the location (albeit in an old store) and this new store is not therefore fulfilling an untapped need, even though they will be able to offer a wider selection. In fact, by moving the store into the new location the number of retail outlets in the area decreases as Energi includes 6 small retailers who will no longer be there. None of those businesses offer services replicated anywhere else in the neighbourhood centre.

In terms of the new Cheshire East local plan, there is reference to policy SG5. This location is neither a Key Service Centre or a Local Service Centre, therefore falls under 'other settlements'. The policy states that the focus, for other settlements, is on providing retail services of appropriate scale and nature for the needs of the local community. The new larger store expands beyond the local area needs and into the wider area taking on a development of a Key Service Centre or Local Service Centre.

Policies SC1 and SC2 of the Cheshire East local plan also relate to this development. SC1 'seeks to protect and enhance existing leisure and recreation facilities' and SC2 protects existing sports facilities unless there is alternative provision or they are surplus to requirements. As I understand it the club has circa 3000 members which would make it difficult to argue it was surplus to requirements. The same policy states that a proposal can't result in a loss of area important for its amenity.

"In conclusion, this is not about a new supermarket adding variety or competition in an area, but a supermarket moving within their area to increase their size of their store and update. This is a designated 'local 'centre, where the focus is on providing a variety of retail services appropriate to the area, by moving and replacing the gym and associated businesses, there is going to be a less diverse offering and a store out of size for the location within a local, neighbourhood centre.

"The removal of the Gym also seems to be directly at odds with policies contained within the Cheshire East local plan."

Lidl's replacement store will be approximately twice the scale of the existing Lidl store and be served by a total of 137 parking spaces, including six disabled and eight parent and child spaces, together with cycle parking facilities.

The new store will offer an identical range of goods to the existing store, along with an expansion of the bakery product lines following the introduction of an in-store bakery.

The additional sales floorspace will allow for wider aisles, larger product displays and more spacious circulation area on entry to the store, whilst the extra non-sales floorspace will provide for a large pallet freezer, bakery preparation area, customer toilets, more storage space and improved staff accommodation.

Wilmslow Town Council also voted unanimously to recommend Lidl's application for refusal at their planning committee meeting on Monday, 21st August, which was attended by local residents, members of energie gym and representatives from Lidl's PR company.

They have objected to the application on the grounds that the proposal conflicts with the Cheshire East Local Plan.

Their objection states "The Planning Committee note that the location of the proposed development is not a 'Town Centre' as indicated in the proposal. Wilmslow Town Council Planning Committee believe that the argument for a 'proven need' at this location has not been made and that the loss of the existing D2 facility would reduce the service offer at this location. Wilmslow Town Council's Planning Committee believes that the existing store meets the needs on a site which is considered to be neither a 'Key Service Centre' or a 'Local Service Centre' in the Local Plan.

"Wilmslow Town Council's Planning Committee highlight Policies SC1 and SC2 of the Cheshire East Local Plan and believes that the size of the membership, the absence of an alternative within walking distance and the range of services available should ensure that these policies rightly protect this leisure and recreation facility."

If planning permission is granted then Lidl proposes to phase the development so the existing store will remain in operation whilst the new store is constructed and will cease trading and be demolished to provide car parking on the opening of the replacement store.

All existing members of staff will be transferred to the new store and it is expected that two additional full-time and 10 to 15 additional part-time jobs will be created.

The new Lidl store will be single storey, lower in height when than the existing 2-storey fitness club building, and will generally occupy the footprint of the existing fitness club. The store entrance will face towards the neighbouring retail parade, with customer car parking provided between the new and existing buildings.

The replacement store's opening hours will be 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturdays and for a six-hour period between 10am and 5pm on Sundays. Whilst the existing store car park is available for customers to use free of charge for up to 60 minutes, this period of time will be extended to 90 minutes when the new store is opened.

Lidl UK's Regional Head of Property, Stuart Jardine, commented: "Our current Wilmslow store is extremely popular but is no longer able to meet the needs of our customers. An opportunity has arisen to purchase the property currently occupied by the Energie Fitness Club, which means that we can improve our retail offering in Wilmslow."

Stuart Jardine added: "A new, more modern store will allow us to stock a wider range of products and improve the shopping experience for our customers. The proposed new store is only metres away from the current store, which will result in a smooth transition for our regular customers."

Lidl's planning application can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 17/3208M. The last date for submitting comments is 31st August and a decision is expected by 22nd September.

Updated: Wednesday 30th August - A petition containing 600 signatures of local residents and gym members who are opposed to the building of a new Lidl store on the site of energie gym, and calling for Cheshire East Council to reject the planning application, was delivered to Macclesfield Town Hall on Tuesday, 29th August.

Esther McVey, Lidl, Planning Applications


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Helene Marshall
Friday 25th August 2017 at 7:04 pm
Stuart Jardine makes a different statement here to the planning application. The planning application says that there will be no new lines apart from some bakery products. The extra space will be used for wider aisles and circulation space.

The planning application says the following

Accordingly, a nationwide programme of modernising the store portfolio is underway in response to advances in technology, especially with regard to store construction and energy efficiency, and the evolution of the operator’s trading format. The upgrading of older stores, such as the existing Wilmslow store, has become a priority.
2.7. A detailed survey of the existing store has been undertaken in order to identify the scope of works required to bring the store up to Lidl’s high company standards. Due to the extensive works required, it has been found to be more cost and time-effective to replace the existing foodstore and build a brand new, up-to-date building.
2.8. This decision has also been heavily influenced by the availability of the neighbouring Energie Fitness Club, with the current site owners being prepared to dispose of the site to Lidl to facilitate the development of a new Lidl store..

Lidl appear to be changing the narrative....,
Nick Jones
Friday 25th August 2017 at 8:11 pm
I’m sure CEC will listen to objections... But they wont actually do anything to stop this or consider objections in a meaningful manner... They might blow some smoke at the electorate, but judging on their track record and that of “The Wilmslow 4” [notorious in Private Eye , LGO as 2nd worst in the country and elsewhere for their collective planning arrogance]... we can expect consultation blah blah ... Local plan blah blah... having already made their decision to move this forward..... Just remember their collective and individual conduct at the ballot box in 2019..... Lyme Green / £3.7M spend on flawed local plan / Non-compliance to Govt planning policy / Ignoring the ‘exceptional circumstance’ criteria re green belt / Ignoring Brownfield development / Local Plan engagement demonstrably dismissed / Adlington “Never build on these fields” Road /Seeking electorates consultation after approving CEC’ Cllrs very own ( & not the electorates) Local Plan / Ignoring Govt commitment to protect green belt / Systematic abuse of pollution data / Documented actions not to represent resident’s wishes voting on several occasions to decimate - eradicate green belt protection / Royal London green belt development / Public disengagement in favour of party colours ..
Laurie Atterbury
Saturday 26th August 2017 at 8:32 am
Summerfields is a village so a village store is all that it needs; not a great big store whose sole objective is to increase market share and attract custom from far afield and add to pollution traffic etc.
David Hoyle
Saturday 26th August 2017 at 3:53 pm
Lidl selling bottles of Prosecco at 6 for £20 today.There was about 50 in the queue before the store opened.
Simon Atkins
Wednesday 30th August 2017 at 4:45 pm
Planning for thousands of new houses has been pushed through in Handforth and Wilmslow (with little to no new infrastructure being put forward), so we need bigger stores to cater for these needs.
Chris Wigley
Wednesday 30th August 2017 at 4:52 pm
My goodness I cannot believe all the objections for this when the diminution of our green belt is taking place.
Frank Maltby
Wednesday 30th August 2017 at 5:30 pm
Just bring Lidl's to Wilmslow, might inject some sorely needed life to this dead town.
Wednesday 30th August 2017 at 7:26 pm
My maths makes it that Lidl is about to lose circa 3000 people who shop there - either before or after they go to the gym. In return there will be circa 200 houses built nearby. I make it that is a very substantial loss of customers, so why would they need a bigger store?
Peter Davenport
Wednesday 30th August 2017 at 9:08 pm
One thing strikes as unusual Lidl's, is that they have a so called bakery section there, with no washing facilities. And presumably it is visited by the health Inspectors. Why is it that there are no such facilities there, and yet all other eating establishments in the are have such facilities.
Christian Hurstfield
Thursday 31st August 2017 at 6:54 am
Simon Atkins point is the only one of any real relevance here. Everyone else's is just the usual shortsighted winge that occurs when anything different from the current situation/setup is proposed in any part of Wilmslow/Handforth.
Kathryn Blackburn
Thursday 31st August 2017 at 8:27 am
It pains me to say it, but my guess would be Lidl know something(s) that we do not in terms of footfall to come. There are many acres of fields nearby that are within the grasp of the developer some of which have already had outline permission sought through agents.
Julian Barlow
Thursday 31st August 2017 at 9:49 am
Christian Hurstfield "Everyone else's is just the usual shortsighted winge".

Clearly you're gifted with great foresight, so perhaps you could explain how the schooling needs of several thousand new families will met when our existing schools are already at full capacity and there are no plans to build additional educational facilities. The same predicament is duplicated with regard to our local medical centres.

We're being driven towards an utterly predictable disaster by a totally inept council.

No wonder the cases of cheap Prosecco were so popular.
Gary Littlewood
Thursday 31st August 2017 at 12:31 pm
A couple of things to bear in mind. 1 Wilmslow Town Council are bound to object. They must be under pressure from shops in the town centre to revitalise the centre, not to encourage an out of town store that will take footfall away
2 Lidl have bought the land from Emerson. Lidl could increase the rent the club has to pay to the point where it becomes unsustainable
3 The current owners have starved the club of investment for quite some time and it looks tired. It looks like they want out or else we wouldn't be in this position, but who would buy the club now?
Thursday 31st August 2017 at 1:29 pm
Gary - re "starved for investment" and "looking tired" - have you been into Wilmslow Leisure Centre lately? The cafe there has been renovated, and there has been work on the roof - but the toilets need stripping out and starting again - preferably with new groundworks and plumbing to eradicate the smell. Meanwhile, Energie charges less than Total Fitness and a large number of people travel to it from over the border - namely Stockport - so it must be doing something right.
Estelle Lewis
Monday 4th September 2017 at 7:24 am
I would have thought Lidl's problem could easily be solved if they built UPWARDS and put in a travelator such as Tesco's have.

As for the lack of school and medical facilities - HELLO, town planners, these problems are not going to go away.

Simple mathematics - schools are already FULL. Doctors appointments are harder to procure. The old and new A34 (bypass) are choked with traffic. Can someone explain how these problems are magically going to be solved when these houses are built?
David Smith
Wednesday 6th September 2017 at 10:31 pm
Well - Lidl has a faithful following of shoppers who live in the area, so why shouldn't they have a better store? Lidl would be the nearest large store for Summerfields residents many of whom could walk/cycle there and save driving to Wilmslow. I'm sure the local Sainsbury’s (x2), Tesco, Waitrose and M&S food outlets - plus the numerous convenience outlets wouldn't want Lidl to expand which is reason enough to allow the expansion. Can't have self interest influencing planning, can we?
If an existing store cannot expand but a newcomer like Aldi, say, wanted to knock the gym down and build one of their stores on the site; well that's ok. Where's the logic in that?
Our MP might have had numerous letters of objection but who from? Let's see the letters to judge whether they have a basis for objecting.
As for the 'Cheshire Plan' - it is administered by inexperienced 'officers' who operate without much consistency or interpretation of the plan itself. As an example: if you have solar panels on your roof there is NO protection within the planning system to prevent the building of a structure next to your property that would put your panels in the shade and reduce their efficiency - even though the so called 'Cheshire Plan' makes reference to PASSIVE ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN. This means "a design that maximises the use of natural/renewable resources such as sunlight, shade and wind to minimise carbon output and improve the comfort of new development." Any loss of light or sunlight on your property is not protected so if a planning application next-door puts your solar panels in the shade the planning department aren't interested.
Regards, Dave Smith.
Thursday 7th September 2017 at 6:38 pm
David - I am one of those "faithful shoppers" - but I am also a "faithful shopper" for items at Sainsburys, Waitrose and Tescos, and independent butchers and independent bakeries. That is how most people shop these days because of preferences over what we buy. The site is not in the town centre and as to the argument about all the extra houses/people needing a shop - that assumes that the 3000 plus members of the gym don't use Lidl currently for some items. If Aldi wanted to demolish and set up a megastore there I would still oppose it on the same grounds. The Aldi at Knutsford by the way, does very well, but then they chose their site within the town centre right next to the railway station and, quite rightly, got planning permission. If Lidl could find a site within the town centre to have a shop then there would be no reason to oppose, but then, of course, they don't want to do that because the cost would be considerably greater to them. You seem to be arguing that the "self interest" of Lidl should influence planning.