Lidl faces licensing battle for new Bishop's Stortford store
Lidl's licensing application for its new Bishop's Stortford store in Stansted Road is to be decided by East Herts councillors after protests by neighbours.
Seven householders have stepped forward to challenge the German chain's bid for permission to sell alcohol from 7am to 11pm seven days a week. The district council's licensing sub-committee will consider their concerns at a meeting on Monday (May 9).
Lidl's separate planning application to build a new outlet and car park on a site currently occupied by Ford motor dealership Gates of Stortford has not yet been determined.
The proposals have divided the town, with many welcoming a new budget grocery shopping option while others – including rivals Tesco and Aldi – have objected. Reasons include unacceptable noise for neighbours and extra traffic on an already busy road.
In their objections to the licence application, householders amplify those fears. One Oaklands Close resident said: "The hours requested are excessive and much longer than other stores in the town. While the site is currently commercial premises, it is bordered by residential areas that would also be unfairly disrupted by being open for such long periods, especially Sundays."
An Oaklands Drive resident said: "Since I object in the first place to the application for this new supermarket being built on the grounds of road safety and accessibility – it would turn an already dangerous road into a traffic blackspot – I certainly object to the building being given a licence. Such a licence could attract the wrong element into the predominantly residential area."
Other neighbours pointed out that 10am to 4pm was the norm for supermarkets to sell alcohol on Sundays and said: "It doesn't work for a supermarket to be set up in this location... changing the type of use for the land would be a better option. Turn the site over for development of houses."
When the sub-committee meets on Monday, its members will be advised that comments about the need for the supermarket or the hours operated by other stores are not relevant to their deliberations, which focus on the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, prevention of public nuisance and protection of children from harm.
Any decision to grant the licence does not bind the council's planning department as they are different regulatory regimes. Lidl will still need to agree on opening hours with East Herts if the council grants planning permission for the new outlet and would face enforcement action if it breached those conditions.
If different hours and restrictions are granted by licensing and planning, then Lidl would be required to comply with the most restrictive.