Tesco Suggests Rival Lidl Should Build On Shaftesbury Football Ground

Tesco has objected to a revised planning application by Lidl.

Tesco doesn’t believe Dorset Council applied planning rules correctly when they approved a new Lidl store next to Tesco on the former cattle market in May.

National regulations require new supermarkets to be within a short distance of town centres. If that can’t be achieved, developers must explore out-of-town sites. Lidl’s proposed location was considered close enough to town for pedestrians, if shoppers walked through the Tesco car park. But Tesco argued that Lidl couldn’t guarantee that their customers could walk over Tesco land. So, Lidl submitted a new planning application which assumed a longer walk to town along Bell Street.

The proposed site for the Lidll store, off Christy’s Lane

Shaftesbury Town Council supported this amended application in November. Dorset Council’s consultants say Lid’s amended plans still met the distance regulations – the plans passed what’s termed a ‘sequential test’ because there are no other suitable locations for a store closer to the town centre. The former Bell Street supermarket site has been considered unsuitable.

Tesco’s agents now claim there are other sites nearer to the town centre which Lidl should consider. They suggest Shaftesbury FC’s grounds. Dorset Council’s agents say the football club land is owned by the Town Council and it’s unlikely to be sold for a supermarket in the foreseeable future. But Tesco say that option should have been investigated.

Tesco’s people have also identified the recreation ground at Cockram’s on Coppice Street as a potential Lidl site. Dorset Council’s consultants say the Shaftesbury Neighbourhood Plan identifies that this open green space needs protecting for woodland and recreation. But Tesco say the Shaftesbury Neighbourhood Plan doesn’t hold weight because it hasn’t been adopted.

Tesco has now secured a judicial review over the decision to approve Lidl’s first application. No date has been announced for that hearing yet. Tesco’s agents warn Dorset Council it would be unsafe to give the go-ahead to Lidl’s second planning application while these matters remain unresolved.

Tesco’s moves could further delay Lidl’s plans to open a discount supermarket. It’s almost two years since the final livestock sale took place on the Christy’s Lane cattle market site in January 2019.