Lidl Foodstore Launches Last Ditch Bid To Come To Ely
CREDIT Crunch foodstore Lidl has launched a last ditch bid to open a store opposite Ely Tesco. There is no love lost between the budget supermarket chain and its main rival Aldi, who are locked in a battle to capitalise on growing trends for cheap food s
CREDIT Crunch foodstore Lidl has launched a last ditch bid to open a store opposite Ely Tesco.
There is no love lost between the budget supermarket chain and its main rival Aldi, who are locked in a battle to capitalise on growing trends for cheap food shopping.
Aldi won its bid to open on Lisle Lane in Ely earlier this year, leaving the route closed for Lidl, who has twice lost its fight to build a store on Angel Drove.
Aldi is likely to be open by Christmas 2009, leaving Lidl out in the cold, their only legal avenue to appeal the district council's decision.
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The appeal began on Tuesday as Lidl's lawyers launched a stinging attack on the district council, Aldi and Aldi's agents Chaldean Properties. Barrister Michael Druce said: "Chaldean was working with Lidl to open a store in Norwich. Contrary to a gentleman's agreement, they then offered that site to Aldi."
Mr Druce then grilled council official Lucie Turnell, who insisted she had taken the decision to refuse Lidl based purely on planning law and guidelines.
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Councils have a legal obligation to site convenience food shops as close to town centres as possible - limiting the harm to town centre trade and encouraging visitors to shop comparatively.
The district council also insisted two other sites were available - Pecks and Ely Chemical Company, both on Lisle Lane, which Lidl still disputes are unsuitable for a food store.
"There is an emerging vision to site retail closer to housing growth which is likely to be in the north east of Ely," said Mrs Turnell, development control team leader at the district council,. "What this [a Lidl store] does is it consolidates retail to the south of the district, meaning that the majority of retail will be out of town centres. There is a long term vision to site retail to the north of Ely around the Paradise Centre and in trying to tie in housing growth."
Michael Druce, Lidl's barrister tried to suggest the council's approach was inconsistent, and that their reasons for refusing the application altered even though "material circumstances had not changed."
The enquiry continues, presided over by planning inspector David Wildsmith. Proceedings are expected to last a week, with experts from the district council, Chaldean Properties and external witnesses.
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