Proposals for a new Lidl in Wilmslow will return to Cheshire East’s planning committee for the third time, having previously been deferred twice following fierce criticism from local residents and politicians.
The plans, which include the demolition of an existing Lidl store and a neighbouring leisure centre, and the construction of a new supermarket, are due to be discussed next week after a decision was deferred at committees in both February and December.
In February, councillors voted five to five to defer ruling on the application, meaning the decision not to proceed with the application was made by chairman Cllr George Walton. This deferral was designed to give Lidl more time to discuss reducing the size of the store with planning officers.
December’s deferral was made after councillors sought further information on the scheme’s transport and highways implications, and an additional representation from the Public Health Department on the loss of the leisure centre.
Now, the latest iteration of the plans has reduced the size of the store from 26,700 sq ft to 24,700 sq ft, while the development will now be phased to allow the existing store to trade while the neighbouring fitness centre is demolished.
The existing store will close for up to eight weeks to allow demolition works to take place before the new supermarket opens.
Lidl said the existing store had “inadequate sales space for each product” as well as a lack of storage space. The supermarket also highlighted the fact the current supermarket did not have customer toilets or baby changing areas.
The number of car parking spaces has also been increased to 155 in the latest application.
Since first being submitted to planners last year, the scheme has been met with criticism from locals and politicians, who had objected to the loss of the leisure centre, which had 3,000 members and includes a gym, swimming pool, and social space.
MP for Tatton Esther McVey also argued the need for the development “is not demonstrated” and said the new store would be against planning policy.
The fitness centre closed on 31 December 2017 after “significant pressure on cash flow”, and “a major loss of monthly membership due to the uncertainty of the club”, according to the centre’s directors. The club’s members were recommended to switch to Energie’s Stanley Green facility, two miles away.
Lidl’s planning application also received 415 letters of objection from residents, and a petition against the scheme received around 600 signatures.
The project has again been recommended for approval by Cheshire East’s planning officers. A decision is expected on 9 May.