Going against officer recommendation, Cheshire East’s planning committee has given the go-ahead to the retailer’s plans for a store in Crewe at the third time of asking.
Although planning officers had recommended the 19,000 sq ft store on University Way for refusal, committee members decided to back the proposals following a surge of support from locals. Councillors supported the scheme by nine votes to two at a committee meeting on 26 June.
The planned store, which will replace Aldi’s existing supermarket at Grand Junction Retail Park, attracted a 4,000-signature petition in support as well as winning the backing of the local parish councils.
Planning officers had argued the scheme should be refused given the site’s designation as employment land; ahead of committee, officers said that while there would be “some economic benefits” to developing the site for retail use, these would be “less than those which would be secured if the employment allocation on the site was implemented”.
Officers had also previously cited evidence from the council’s arms-length employment body, the Skills & Growth Company, and agent Legat Owen, which argued there was a lack of available business space, particularly for SMEs, along with record occupancy levels in the area.
The scheme was previously refused by Cheshire East’s planning committee in November last year, after being deferred the previous month.
Aldi had argued remaining or expanding at its existing Grand Junction Retail Park store would not be viable, with existing lease due to expire in 2020.
The retailer also said it was “highly unlikely” the site would come forward for employment use, stating a previous permission for B1 use had expired due to a lack of interest in office development. Aldi also emphasised the community support and the job creation from the scheme, both of which were acknowledged by councillors in their vote.
George Brown, property director at Aldi said: “We’re delighted that Cheshire East has re-examined our arguments for University Way and listened to the unprecedented levels of support from the local community.
“Our new store in Crewe is part of our ambitious growth strategy that will see around 1,200 in operation by 2025, whilst also improving our existing community stores for a better customer experience.
“We’re now looking forward to starting our initial work on the University site and getting ready for construction which will begin before the end of the year.”
The team on the project includes JLL; BECG; Cameron Rose Associates; The Harris Partnership; Lamb & Swift Commercial; and Aaron & Partners.