Proposals for an Aldi store off University Way in Crewe have been recommended for refusal after Cheshire East planners argued the land should be set aside for employment use instead of retail.
The retailer’s planning application for the site is for a 19,000 sq ft store, along with 132 car parking spaces, with access off University Way.
Aldi is planning to relocate from its existing store on Junction Retail Park, which it describes as “no longer fit for purpose” due to a lack of dedicated customer parking and its location on a retail park. The new store has been designed by the Harris Partnership.
The land at Crewe Green, around a mile outside Crewe town centre, has been set aside for employment use under Cheshire East’s Local Plan, and has a historic consent for office use from both 2004 and 2010.
Pre-application meetings with council planners found the store to be acceptable in principle, according to the project’s design and access statement, despite the land being designated for employment use.
However, ahead of Cheshire East’s southern planning committee next week, council planners have recommended the scheme for refusal, stating that the “principle of retail use on this employment allocation is not acceptable”.
Planners said that due to nearby employment developments coming forward at nearby sites, including industrial schemes on the neighbouring plot to the south and at Orion Park, Aldi’s site is “a viable employment allocation” which “should be protected”.
“Proposals for main town centre uses should be located within designated town centres or on other sites allocated for that particular type of development,” said the planners’ report. “Where there are no suitable sites available, edge-of-centre locations must be considered prior to out-of-centre locations.
“It is entirely reasonable to believe that the site could be used for allocated employment use in the future, if sufficiently marketed.”
Cheshire East’s planning committee is due to discuss the proposals on 3 October.