In recent days, there have been suggestions on social media that Lidl have pulled out of their store, proposed for the site of the former Cattle Market.
In a statement issued to ThisIsAlfred.com today, Tuesday, the company’s Corporate Communications Officer Oliver Thomas confirmed that the supermarket remains committed to its Shaftesbury project.
“Following the public consultation, we’ve taken on board all of the feedback received and are pleased to be working closely with both Council and Highways officers to update our proposals. This includes widening Christy’s Lane to accommodate a right-hand turn lane, for customers to access the store car park and address concerns about traffic congestion. While this will necessitate the relocation of one or two trees, we’d like to reassure local residents that they will be replanted near the existing road access,” Mr Thomas wrote.
The plan to cut into and narrow the grass verge on one side of Christy’s Lane has proved unpopular with some Town councillors. It was one of the reasons why the Town Council opposed the Lidl planning application in its current form during their June Planning meeting, although there was general support for the principle of a new store.
In that meeting, Cllr Phil Proctor explained that the beech trees, which line the road, were planted to mark the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday. Some members felt that more trees could be affected as their roots could be damaged by works.
Cllr Proctor was adamant that a new site access road from Christy’s Lane wasn’t needed. He argued that the Town Council retains a right of way for cars over the existing road that leads from the roundabout to Tesco’s car park. He wanted Lidl to share Tesco’s access road.
Cllr Peter Yeo felt it unlikely that Tesco would agree to help a rival, but Phil Proctor persisted, claiming that he had, ‘carefully read the deeds’, and that they were available from the Town Clerk’s office.
Town Clerk, Claire Commons, said she did not have those papers, but she was in possession of the original 1954 lease and she believed that the agreement would have been terminated when the site was recently sold.
Earlier this month, Cllr Proctor’s suggestion for the store to be approached from the existing roundabout leading to Tesco was shared with the Shaftesbury Tree Group. They have written to the Town Council to support this approach as they believe it would, ‘conserve the beech avenue, wide grass verges and general appearance of this leafy entrance to the town’.
Lidl’s low-cost rival Aldi intends to open at Kingsmead on the Shaftesbury side of Gillingham in November, in time for Christmas. We asked Lidl when their Shaftesbury store will start trading. It appears that the planning process will determine the date. Mr Thomas said, “We will be submitting changes to our plans in the next few weeks and look forward to receiving a decision in due course.” Dorset Council planners will have the final say on the planning application.