Planners back £3m Lidl store

Planners back £3m Lidl store

14 October 2020

PLANNERS are recommending that proposals for a new £3m supermarket in Newcastle should go ahead.

The recommendation for Lidl’s proposal at the former St Mary’s Girls’ Primary School site in the town — which includes a new £500,000 base for the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team – will be discussed at next week’s meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s Planning Committee.

Outline planning permission is being sought to demolish the former school building to pave the way for the new store and mountain rescue centre and parking for 150 vehicles.

Plans to redevelop the former primary school site, which is expected to create up to 12 new jobs, were originally submitted in January 2018 to replace Lidl’s existing base at Railway Street in the resort.

Last November it was announced planning permission for the multi-million pound store was to be quashed following a judicial review by objectors.

It was confirmed at the time that permission was quashed as the result of a procedural error in relation to the papers before the local authority’s Planning Committee.

A new pedestrian crossing at the Bryansford Road junction with Shimna Road forms part of the proposal, with Lidl consistently arguing its current base is too small to allow the store to carry the company’s full range of goods, highlighting issues with narrow aisles and inadequate parking provision.

The store argues the Railway Street base was only supposed to be a temporary home until a larger unit could be found. Lidl says it has been looking for an alternative town centre site for over decade without success until the Shanslieve Drive site became available, with the planned mountain rescue team centre providing the volunteers with a permanent base.

In planning papers made public ahead of next week’s meeting, planners confirm that they have received a number of objections about the proposed new development.

The concerns argue the proposal is not in keeping with the residential nature of the area and the closure of the existing Lidl store will have a detrimental impact on Newcastle town centre and surrounding inconvenience stores.

Concern has also been expressed about the proposed store’s impact on traffic, the potential for increased flooding and the impact of selling alcohol, particularly to young children.

Objectors have also argued that Lidl’s proposal is contrary to planning policy in that the development site is located outside Newcastle’s primary retail core, is not in the interests of the community and will impact on the residential amenity of Shanslieve Drive residents.

Lidl’s failure to recognise the close proximity of an adjacent apartment development and the full extent of vehicular rights is also highlighted by objectors.

In recommending that approval should be granted, planners say that having assessed the proposal against planning policy and all material considerations which apply to the application and taking into account the input of consultees, “it is determined that the proposal is acceptable in planning terms and approval is recommended.”

Planners say the net retail floorspace of the new store shall not exceed 1,340 square metres and that no goods or merchandise will be stationed or displayed in the forecourt, with opening hours limited to 8am to 9pm from Monday to Saturday and from 1pm to 6pm on Sundays.

Store deliveries are not permitted between 11pm and 7am with onsite floodlighting only operational between these hours.

Planners say that if outline approval is granted, no development activity or demolition work, ground preparation or vegetation clearance can take place until a final construction and environmental management plan has been submitted and approved by the Planning Authority.