Readers support plans for a Lidl

GIANT German supermarket chain Lidl is determined to open a new store in Ely in the future, despite falling at the first hurdle of the planning process. The retailer has submitted a planning application to East Cambs District Council, but this has been re

GIANT German supermarket chain Lidl is determined to open a new store in Ely in the future, despite falling at the first hurdle of the planning process. The retailer has submitted a planning application to East Cambs District Council, but this has been rejected on the grounds that "out-of-town retailing will harm the viability and vitality of the city".

Planners accept that there is a lot of public interest in the store but feel the site, opposite the Tesco store in Angle Drove is wrong.

Lidl, however, has stood its ground as it believes it has support from a large number of Ely residents who want more choice when it comes to doing the weekly shop. It also believes the site, which it has already purchased, is suitable.

Lidl is holding an open meeting on Wednesday night to gauge public opinion and we will report on this next week.

The Ely Standard decided to carry out its own market research and invited readers to tell us what they thought. The response had been overwhelmingly in favour of the new store coming to Ely, with only a handful of people against the idea.

Here are the responses we received.

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WE are limited in having Tesco. We regularly visit Lidl in March and really enjoy buying the different products they sell. We cannot wait to get one in Ely, we strongly support the shop coming to Ely - Chris Holley, Stretham.

* WE would like to add our voices to the vote to support Lidl in Ely. They have many lines that are just not available in our two major superstores so we don't see where competition might be a problem.

We travel up to March at least once a month in order to shop at Lidl's for items we can't get here in Ely. Surely it would be better for Ely traders to keep shoppers in this area - Alan and Jean Addison by email.

* I WRITE with reference to correspondence in your Letters page last week regarding the recent planning refusal for two retail stores in Ely. Although the letters were criticising these decisions, it's good to hear that people are concerned about the future of Ely and the district.

As a district council, we welcome new development which contributes to making a vibrant, successful and sustainable town. It is our job to help make this happen, because we all want better community facilities and infrastructure, new shops, and new services.

We need these to encourage growth and to deliver a high quality of life for the ever-growing numbers of people who wish to move to Ely. To do this we have to plan effectively and make sure we have the right balance of facilities in the right place.

This is not an easy task but if we are to do this correctly, we need to listen to the views of everyone from individuals to companies. This is why we launched initiatives such as the Ely Masterplan, to ensure that we not only manage growth, but that everyone has their say. This will allow us to put development and infrastructure in the right places to the benefit of everyone.

This is a unique opportunity to determine the future of Ely, and I hope that everybody will participate in the consultation exercise.


* NO more chain stores! Ely is already host to all the cheapest and worst chains, please don't encourage another. The mentality seems to be for poor quality at the cheapest price - has no-one here noticed that we can't have that any more, the world cannot support cheap living, and the environment has suffered enough. Your children and grandchildren will not thank you for destroying what is left.

What we should be campaigning for are local, high quality stores who promote Fair Trade and unique produce, a vegetarian and organic restaurant would be good too - how come we don't have one? There are so many people who choose not to shop in Ely because there is nothing worth buying; their money is probably spent in London or Cambridge. What about aiming for Slow City status? - Jane Frost by email.

* YOU wanted to know if we wanted a Lidl, well we don't, thank you.

Lidl is yet more pound shop style stuff from dubious sources, as in chocolate bars with Turkish writing and even cheaper junk that has spent more time travelling here from China than it will in use before being discarded and sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years. We already have half a dozen pound shops, Wilkinsons, Iceland, the market all selling 'value for money' mostly tat or food, mostly with no nutritional value, no interest in where it came from, how long it's spent being driven up and down the country, how many people were paid almost nothing in some developing country etc etc.

We want shops with responsible reputations, like Waitrose and Woolworths (they source their children's clothes in the UK for one). Why can't we have a Marks and Spencer or a Mothercare? Probably close to half the population of Ely has just moved here, myself included from places like London, where we will spend a bit more in an M&S rather than from a pound shop to have something that lasts. We are all going to Peterborough, Cambridge and Bury to find what we need or using the Internet. What can Ely do in attract better shops? Me and all the other middle class mums on maternity leave go for coffee in Ely and moan about not being able to find a decent coat or nice underwear or maternity wear. Judging by the hundreds of pounds just sitting there in buggies you can see that there are consumers going to waste! I thought new parents and retired people were the biggest consumer groups, isn't that most of Ely?

What I love about Ely shopping is the Farmers' Market. The best addition recently is the Shoe Tree; intelligent staff, and a range good quality children's shoes. Ely doesn't have to be full of High Street chains, but surely Ely could be doing more to attract better quality retailers. Isn't that what the mayor does among other things - Christine Jones, Ely.

* I AM all for another supermarket coming to Ely, it's about time Tesco had some competition. Ely has expanded enormously and another supermarket is deliberately needed for choice and also cheaper prices - I Kennett, Littleport, by email.

* Ely badly needs another superstore, as Tesco is always overcrowded, particularly where parking is concerned. Trade would come from here, rather than from the city centre stores.

We go regularly to Lidl in March for extra variety, good value and excellent fresh vegetables - many items are not available elsewhere; many are cheaper; and the weekly promotions make shopping a bit more interesting!

We were so pleased to see the proposal for a new store here, and hope that it will go ahead as soon as possible - Averil Lewin, Witchford, by email.

* WE think another store placed out of town where the new park-and-ride car park is would be very beneficial as we think Tesco could do with the competition to keep prices competitive.

Ken Shipp, Littelport, by email.

* YES we do need opposition to Tesco who since they came to Ely have dictated what happens in this city.

Geoff Smith by email.

* MR Archer, the development director, does not agree with another supermarket in Ely although we all know that the population has increased enormously. His reasoning was that trade would be taken from the centre of the town and that was not good for the viability of the shops.

I cannot see how he comes to that conclusion as there is only one food store in the centre, and Tesco has already been allowed to leave the town and set up on the outskirts! Has Tesco got some hold over the city or does Mr Archer make his decisions 'off his own back' without any consultation with council members? It certainly appears that Ely is at the mercy of Tesco. Perhaps all the additional cash offered by the supermarket sways the council in their decisions. Not good news.

GR Spinks, Littleport, by email.

* YES we do definitely want a Lidl here. How can the council planners allow a monstrosity of a structure by the river which will not help Ely in anyway at all but something important as another supermarket they turn their backs on. They didn't refuse Tesco space although that's out-of-town I think they just say things to suit themselves in their smug little offices. Can't they see we need another supermarket as Ely is growing and Lidl is the best choice of all and I speak for hundreds of people here in Ely. I hope Lidl get their way and show our ignorant planners what us normal people of Ely and the area want here.

M SQUIRES, by email.

* MUCH as I like Tesco, I would love to see a Lidi in the city. It would give more choice. I have used the one in Cambridge at odd times and they have a great selection of continental foods

Lidl have my vote to come to Ely.

Mr V Stanley, Littleport, by email.

* I THINK we do deserve a Lidl because Tesco has all the market and is getting more and more expensive. I drive to March to go to the Lidl there and end up shopping in the town. I don't think the town will be affected by this as Tesco is there and people still use the town. We need more shops like Lidl, BHS and McDonald's. All the town currently has is banks, charity shops, cafes and estate agents. No wonder people go and shop elsewhere - June, Sutton, by email.

* I CAN'T wait for a Lidl to come to Ely, hopefully soon. Have to drive every weekend to King's Lynn -what a distance to do my shopping. When will it come? Please let us know

Gabriela Miriah - by email.

* WHILST you have published letters critical of the district council's decisions to deny planning permission to applications by Lidl supermarket and Focus DIY to establish on the edge of town, there are certainly residents of Ely who support these decisions. If the council is able to maintain a consistent approach with respect to planning strategy, then it should be applauded for doing so. Ely is a unique city with a splendid heritage, and it should not be allowed to deteriorate. Ely will undoubtedly grow, but it does not have to do so at the expense of the vitality of the downtown shopping district and the general quality of life that all residents wish to enjoy.

MIKE WARD, Ship Lane, Ely

* AS two elderly senior citizens, living in Ely for the past 10 years, we are truly fed up with being held to ransom by Tesco both in choice, quality, and price, but particularly fuel. It appears that on some products they deliberately cease to stock certain items and replace them with own brand, removing freedom of choice.

With the rapid growth of the city and surrounding area, we need at least one, if not two major supermarkets, as a matter of urgency, with at least one having a filling station. We want to be like other cities, with choice, not having to travel 20 miles or so to find variety.

The event of Lidl would be a start, as shopping at Tesco at times is an ordeal not a pleasure, as our councillors should be aware, if not get down on Friday or Saturday, and try to find your way around the personal shoppers.

Being a realist, I can see possible traffic problems; however why not allow a supermarket on one of the commercial sites on the by-pass? Meanwhile, Lidl will ease the overloading at Tesco and at least provide competition and choice.

MR and MRS J BURTON, Ely, by email.

* I READ your editorial last week regarding Lidl's plans for a store at Angel Drove being rejected due to shoppers moving away from the city centre.

I have lived in Ely now for five years and am amazed at the lack of DIY shops in the area. Bearing in mind the number of new houses being built, all with residents keen to decorate their new homes and tackle their gardens. In the city centre there are only two shops selling a very limited range of DIY. So what choice do they have - drive to either Newmarket, Cambridge or Kings Lynn!

We are all being encouraged to minimise our carbon footprint - so how does that help?

I think that the Ely councillors are burying their heads in the sand if they think they can continually block plans for semi-out of town shops. People want choice, value for money, and do their bit for the environment by not travelling too far to get it.

How about a referendum for residents to see what they want - after all, it's us that pay their salaries.

VANESSA WOOD by email.

* I FEEL that the addition of a store like Lidl would be an asset if it were to open in Ely. They do sell a good range of foods and items at a very competitive price, and some of the items are not available at any other shop or store in Ely. We have shopped at the March branch of Lidl many times and have been satisfied in price and the good quality of the purchases that we have made there. Whatever happened to good healthy competition and the chance to purchase a wider range of goods? I feel that the general attitude of many of the would-be customers would agree. Let's have some new and interesting shops around Ely in particular, it is unfair to be condemned to a few stores that have until now have had the run of the trade and little competition to contend with..

D.DIMBLEBEE, Orchard East, Little Downham, by email.

* MY wife and I visited the Bedford store this summer. We liked the wonderfully different range of foods available. It was just like shopping in a continental supermarket.

When I heard that Lidl were to open a branch in Ely, we were delighted, only to then discover that the plans had been rejected. I was not surprised. Tesco were bound to use their muscle to block the application.

As for the site being unsuitable, I totally disagree for the following reasons:

n It is a reasonably large brownfield site, and surely a modern new supermarket would be more appealing than a concrete works and a garage.

* Surely a safe access road could be built to a small multi storey car park, which if anything would benefit the community.

* Angel Drove is a commercial, rather than residential area, and as such would support a supermarket.

NICK FORD, Annesdale, Ely, by email.

* IT'S time we had a choice of where to do our shopping. I can't believe that with the number of new houses being built that another supermarket chain hasn't tried to build in the area. Good Luck Lidl. MRS YOUNG, Sutton, by email.

* NO doubt you must have received many emails and letters regarding the planners refusing permission for Lidl and Focus DIY.

It is obvious why the permission has been refused.

We, for one, go to King's Lynn Morrisons for our shopping as we do not like being dictated to as to where we should shop. We actually save our petrol money and more.

Wisbech is only a market town but they have Somerfied, Asda, Farm Foods, Aldi, Tesco, of course, and there is a Lidl store being built opposite Tesco.

Planners at Fenland District Council obviously listen to the public on what they want.

* WITH all the housing estates being built in the area, it's a shame we have to depend on the Ely Standard to help get more supermarkets in town.

Whilst on the subject, is Tesco not an out-of-town supermarket although the planners intimate Ely doesn't want out-of-town shopping!

Come on East Cambs planning department, do something before Ely is completely dead and listen to the voters as to what is wanted.

GWEN CHAPLIN, by email.

* THIS area of Ely is already a bottle-neck. This store would only make things worse. A Lidl would be good, but how about the other side of Ely where there are no supermarkets. Ely will become gridlocked before long, SARAH FIELDING, Prickwillow Road, Ely, by email.

* YES we do need another supermarket in Ely to compete with Tesco. Lidl has our vote, LES and MURIEL GARNER, by email.