Proposals for an Aldi store in Crewe, refused in November last year, are set to be knocked back by Cheshire East’s planning committee for a second time.
The Aldi supermarket off University Way was subject to a long planning battle last year, being deferred twice between September and October, before being refused by committee in November.
The scheme, originally recommended for refusal by planning officers, is to replace Aldi’s existing store at Grand Junction Retail Park and will cover 19,000 sq ft along with 132 car parking spaces.
However, the scheme was refused as planning officers argued the site should be used for employment use, given its designation in Cheshire East’s Local Plan.
Ahead of next week’s planning committee, where amended plans will go before councillors, planning officers have again recommended the scheme be refused for the same reasons.
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”.
Planning officers had 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 Skills & Growth Company said: “The site is in a successful employment area, close to a range of major business parks that have already attracted major businesses requiring office and light industrial premises. It is also in an ideal attractive location on the Crewe Green roundabout and is close to the new Crewe Green Link Road and the M6.”
Aldi has 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.
However, the council argued that “no marketing of the site” had taken place, and added its “only research information indicates that there is a strong demand for employment land in Crewe”.
JLL has represented Aldi and filed evidence in the sequential test, while Savills acts for GJRP owner Triton. While WYG, representing Cheshire East, accepted that JLL had seriously examined alternative sites as required by the sequential test, including the Royal Arcade, due to undergo a major redevelopment, it did not accept that development prospects at the existing retail park had been exhausted.
Cheshire East’s planning committee will make a decision on the scheme on 26 June.