A discount retailer's controversial planning application to demolish a former gym and their existing store so they can replace it with a new larger store has been given the go ahead at the third time of hearing.
Lidl's application to build a new foodstore at Summerfields, adjacent to their existing store, was approved by the Northern Planning Committee today (Wednesday, 9th May) by ten votes to two.
Cheshire East Council received over 400 letters objecting to the scheme and a petition containing approximately 600 signatures was also delivered to Cheshire East Council objecting to the proposal on the grounds that the gym is situated in a residential area for locals and others to use; further traffic problems within this area are unacceptable to residents and the proposed loss of number of mature trees to make way for new building / delivery area.
During the process Lidl submitted revised plans which included a 7.5% reduction in the gross floorspace of the proposed new building, from 2,480m2 to 2,292m2, which wasachieved by re-arranging the non-sales floorspace, revising the position of the storage freezers and reducing the scale of the storage area and the sales area.
The proposed sales floorspace was also reduced from 1,655m2 to 1,577m2 (4.8%), which was achieved by reducing the width of the shopping aisles by approximately 28cm each.
Additionally the number of car parking spaces was increased from 136 to 155 spaces, made possible by the reduction in the floorspace, and the location of the trolley bay was moved to the store shopfront, away from the residential boundary with properties on Tiverton Drive and the height of the roof on the eastern elevation was reduced.
The Planning Officer recommended the application for approval stating "The applicant has reduced the size of the store, which has also facilitated the provision of additional parking spaces. Whilst this provision is marginally below the standard recommended within Appendix C of the CELPS, having regard to the existing situation on site and the 149 spaces available on the adjacent public car park, adequate car parking is available for the staff and customers of the proposed development.
"The proposed store is smaller than the existing gym building, which is a main town centre use as defined in the Framework. The proposed store is therefore substantially smaller than the two main town centre uses on the site (the existing store and the former gym) and results in a reduction in floorspace of 1811sqm overall. The site is within an identified shopping area, and there is no requirement for a sequential test to be undertaken or a retail impact assessment to be carried out. However, the applicant has undertaken both these exercises which demonstrate that there are no sequentially preferable sites and there is no significant adverse impact upon Handforth or Wilmslow town Centres."
The Secretary of State has received a request to intervene on this application, therefore the application will be referred to the Secretary of State and subject to the necessary clearance.
The existing store will continue to trade whilst the former Energie Fitness Club building is demolished and the new store building is erected. However, it will be necessary to close the existing store prior to the opening of the replacement to allow for the existing store to be demolished and replaced by customer car parking. It is anticipated that there will be a period of up to 8 weeks between the existing store closing and the replacement store opening.
Lidl plans to create up to 20 new jobs at the new store which will also feature facilities such as an in-store bakery, longer-style tills with dual packing facilities and customer toilets.
The new store is expected to open in early 2020.