A ‘COMMON-SENSE’ approach has been called for after plans for a new supermarket in the Forest were recommended refusal.
Plans for a new Aldi food store and complementary retail and industrial units next to the former JD Norman site in Lydney have been recommended for refusal by council planners, due to concerns over retail impact on the town.
However, local councillors and hundreds of Lydney residents, have come out in support of the plans, which would see a multi-million pound investment to secure the regeneration of a vacant brownfield site, deliver much-needed food shopping choice and create up to 140 new local jobs.
Councillor Alan Preest, one of the ward members for Lydney East said: “These proposals represent a real opportunity for Lydney to recover a derelict site back into economic use.
“The investment and job opportunities these proposals represent are significant, especially at a time of economic uncertainty and we can’t afford to refuse this application. If we do, what sort of a message will this send to companies wanting to invest in the Forest? I fear we’d lose Aldi for good if this application is refused.
“My fellow ward members and I are strongly of the opinion that this application would represent a real benefit to the town, and – with the greatest respect - we disagree whole-heartedly with the conclusions drawn in the planning officer’s report in relation to retail impact,” he added.
“Lydney currently has more than enough space for an Aldi in this location and we would urge our colleagues on the Planning Committee to support this application.”
A new store would create up to 40 new jobs directly, plus support numerous more through construction and supply chain. In addition, the proposals include a number of smaller retail units, aimed at start-up or growing businesses, which have the potential to create additional jobs in the local community.
JD Norman operations ceased in March this year with the loss of 150 jobs.
A spokesperson from Aldi said: “We’re surprised and really disappointed that the application has received a recommendation for refusal. This site already has a planning permission for a retail food store, and we’ve have worked really hard with officers and consultees to shape the proposals to bring as much local benefit as possible through the planning process.
“Whilst there is a recommendation for refusal based on retail impact, we are strongly of the opinion that Lydney can accommodate this new food store, and furthermore, that it will be a significant benefit to retail provision in the town through retaining shoppers who currently travel to Ross-on-Wye, which is our next closest store.
“We have sought robust legal advice in order to provide members and officers with comfort on this point.
“We respectfully urge members of the Planning Committee to consider the broader picture as they come to a decision on this application.
The application will be heard at Forest of Dean District Council’s Planning Committee on December 8. Further information and a link to view the meeting live is available on the Council’s website www.fdean.gov.uk.
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