Lidl announces plans for a new development in the city

PUBLISHED: 15:09 22 December 2011

The news was met with concern by the Ely Traders' Association (ETA), which said the application was further proof the city was under siege.

"Last week, Mary Portas highlighted Ely in a report commissioned by David Cameron, as 'a town centre surrounded on all sides'. This application further demonstrates how right she is," spokesman Andrew Olley said.

SUPERMARKET chain Lidl has reignited plans to develop land it bought in Ely four years ago, the Ely Standard can reveal.

The German retail giant was unsuccessful in attempts to build a foodstore in the city in both 2007 and 2008 but has this week sought permission for a “non-food” store selling DIY goods, furniture, electrical and gas appliances, pet products and carpets.

If successful, the company hopes to sell the Angel Drove site, currently occupied by EMG Ford, on to new retailers, with a potential new store open by 2014.

The news was met with grave concern by the Ely Traders Association (ETA), who said that the application is further proof that the city is under siege.

“Last week Mary Portas highlighted Ely in a report commissioned by David Cameron, as ‘a town centre surrounded on all sides’- this application further demonstrates how right she is,” spokesman Andrew Olley said.

“Supermarkets are continuing to draw customers away from the centre of Ely with free car parking. We need our council to be strong, keep car parking free in the centre of Ely and work with local businesses to develop the centre of our community.

“Remember- money spent in town centre shops is much more likely to stay in the local community.”

Only this week, the ETA handed in a 12,200-signature petition to the district council, outlining their opposition to parking charges and calling on the authority to carry out an impact study on the effect of the proposed charges on traders in the city. The ETA have also called for an immediate referendum.

The plans for the new store, which could cover more than three acres, were submitted to East Cambridgeshire District Council planners in November and are currently out to public consultation.

According to agents acting for the supermarket chain, nicol thomas, the development would require little in the way of building work, with much of the existing structure of the car dealership maintained.

“In relation to the conversion of the building, the application proposes a very straightforward change of use with practically no changes to elevations or external appearance,” developers said.

“The development of bulky goods floor space at Angel Drove presents a significant opportunity to strengthen the retail offer of Ely overall.

“It would provide space for retail uses which cannot be accommodated within the city centre at present and which will not be easily accommodated in any future development to the north of the city centre.

“The proposal at the EMG site would enable Ely to increase its market share by reclaiming some of the bulky goods expenditure which is currently leaking from the district.”

Developers also said that a patch of land to the north west of the dealership, which is also owned by Lidl, would not form part of the application but “may be proposed to accommodate a single dwelling in due course.”

EMG told the Ely Standard that it had a two-year notice agreement for the site and had no immeditate plans to leave.

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