"Lidl's Arguments Are Limited" Says Barrister For Planning Appeal

PUBLISHED: 18:08 02 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:38 04 May 2010

The arguments of Lidl, like its products, are of limited range and should be discounted. This was the damning assessment of East Cambridgeshire District Council barrister Rory Clark at the close of the enquiry into Lidl s bid to open a store in Ely. A

The arguments of Lidl, like its products, are of limited range and should be discounted."

This was the damning assessment of East Cambridgeshire District Council barrister Rory Clark at the close of the enquiry into Lidl's bid to open a store in Ely.

After seven days of argument and counter argument at Haddenham's Arkenstall Centre, planning inspector David Wildsmith will decide whether to uphold the council's decision to prevent Lidl from building a store on the EMG Ford site at Angel Drove.

The council says building a Lidl store in the south of the city is contrary to its "long term vision" to bring more shops to the north and centre of Ely and building a discount store out of the town centre would lead to more car trips, having an impact on the environment.

Aldi's barrister, Jonathan Milner, agreed: "The Lidl proposal is agreed to be out of centre and would consolidate convenience retail shopping on the Angel Drove ring road, thus detracting from the city centre and reinforcing a polarity of provision.

It would also be primarily dedicated to the car borne shopper and so would be an unsustainable location that would have no compensating symbiotic relationship with the city centre."

Mr Milner even went so far as to suggest that the construction of a tree-lined avenue connecting the Vineyards to the city centre, and even the building of an Aldi store, could be put into jeopardy if Lidl were given the go ahead.

"The appeal location [EMG Ford on Angel Drove] is a commercially superior location," he acknowledged, compared to the Thurlow Nunn Standen [soon to be Aldi] site that has required a considerable degree of flexibility to bring it forward, in terms of design, site levels and pedestrian links to the town centre, with attendant increases in costs.

If planning permission were to be granted, Aldi would have to reconsider its position having regard to the likely impact of a new store directly upon Aldi."

But Lidl's barrister Michael Druce insisted that was nonsense, as Aldi already have an agreement with their development company Chaldean Properties and are committed to building a new store.

"Government policy operates to facilitate competition, not to deliver one operator a monopolistic trading position," he insisted.

Lidl is looking to expand its UK operation by 10 to 15 per cent per year to take advantage of the increasing demand for budget food during the country's impending economic recession.

A decision is expected in January.

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