Bishop's Stortford Town Council's qualified welcome for planned Lidl store in Stansted Road
Bishop’s Stortford Town Council has given a qualified welcome to plans for German discount supermarket chain Lidl to open a new branch in Stansted Road.
Members of the council's planning and development committee scrutinised the scheme for the Gates of Stortford car dealership site. East Herts Council, as the planning authority, will make the final decision.
Lidl has asked the district council for planning permission for a 2,382 sq m (25,639 sq ft) store with a sales area of 1,414 sq m (15,220 sq ft).
Aimed at shoppers from St Michael’s Hurst and Stortford Fields, the 1.15-hectare (2.84-acre) scheme also includes 147 "largest format" car parking spaces (5.2m x 2.7m) – including 10 disabled bays and 10 parent-and-child spots – two electric vehicle charging points and six cycle stands with space for 12 bikes. It is estimated that the branch, if approved, will create 40 full-time equivalent jobs.
The committee accepted that further retail outlets were required to serve the new neighbourhoods and to increase consumer choice. The nearest Lidl stores are in Harlow and Braintree.
Cllr Richard Townsend, who is also an East Herts Council member, said: “I’m not strictly for or against this – but it’s going to be a necessity.”
Ward councillor Jill Sortwell said: “I live in that end of town and I know some residents are concerned about it.”
Comments to EHC are split between objectors and supporters. One critic said: “The road is already very busy, and access to Stansted Road from Oaklands Park would be even more difficult than it is now. I’ve lived here for over 50 years, I very strongly object to this application and I hope, as such a long-standing resident, that my opinion is heard.”
However, Cllr Sortwell acknowledged that the development was proposed on a commercial site, “not in the middle of a residential estate".
She said that if there was a proper assessment of the impact on traffic and adequate provision for pedestrians, she believed the new store had the potential to alleviate some of the congestion at Hockerill caused by the Aldi store in London Road.
The application is Lidl’s second bid to build in Bishop’s Stortford. Its first plans focused on the site next to the railway station now occupied by its German rival.
Cllr Shane Manning, who lives close by, said: “Anything that takes a little bit of traffic away and can ultimately decrease congestion in London Road is a good thing to me.”
Founded as the Lidl & Schwarz Grocery Wholesale company in the 1930s, the first Lidl in the UK opened in 1994. There are now more than 800 plus 13 regional distribution centres, employing over 22,000 people.
According to Whittam Cox Architects, Gates of Stortford plans to consolidate and relocate its operations.
Lidl has leafleted households and businesses in Stortford seeking comments on its application. You can have your say online at bishopsstortford.expansion.lidl.co.uk.