A Lidl store in Wilmslow has been recommended for planning approval at Cheshire East’s Northern planning committee next week, despite 600 local residents signing a petition against the scheme and criticism from local MP Esther McVey.
Lidl has proposed to demolish its existing store and the neighbouring Energie leisure centre on the site off Dean Row Road in Wilmslow, and build a 27,000 sq ft supermarket and associated parking spaces. One Design is architect for the scheme.
The proposals have been met with fierce opposition by local residents, many of whom object to the loss of the fitness centre on the site, which has 3,000 members and includes a gym, swimming pool, and social space.
The planning application by Lidl received around 415 letters of objection from residents, and a petition against the project received around 600 signatures.
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, while local councillor Barry Burkhill said the scheme would result in “a net reduction of between 30 and 40 jobs” and did not fit into planning policy as a result.
Cheshire East planning officers have recommended the project for approval despite these objections, and argued the fitness centre is “surplus to requirements, given the availability of other indoor leisure facilities in the local area”.
However, McVey said it was “difficult to argue to it was surplus to requirements” given that it has around 3,000 members.
While the planners’ report said it was “very clear that the existing gym is a valuable and convenient facility for many local people,” it added “facilities provided at Energie are available at several locations within the Wilmslow and Handforth area, and any additional demand arising from the loss of the Energie gym and pool can be accommodated within these alternative facilities”.
“It is acknowledged that some of these alternative facilities might be more expensive, or not quite as convenient, but this is not a material planning consideration in this case,” said the report.
“It is also important to note that unlike outdoor open space, indoor facilities are not a finite resource, and their supply will be very much dependent upon demand and market forces.
“It has been demonstrated that there is an adequate supply to meet demand without the facilities at Energie.”
Planning officers also added the site was not a designated asset of community value.
Cheshire East’s Northern planning committee is due to meet on 7 December.