By John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporter: Almost 1,000 people have objected to plans to build a new Lidl on the edge of Bath.
The planning application for the discount supermarket in Larkhall attracted more than 1,200 comments from the community before comments closed last week.
A total of 295 people have voiced their support for the store on Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning portal, a total of 16 people left neutral comments, and 945 commented to object to the plans – which would see the store built next to Bath Rugby’s Lambridge Training on the London Road, on what is currently a wild field surrounded by trees.
“This proposal rides roughshod over the value of greenery, earth, flora and fauna in a way we can no longer afford globally,” commented John Eames in objection to the store.
He said: “It is unnecessary as Bath is well-provided with supermarkets across all price sectors. Lidl already have a Bath store. Their presence on London Road will damage the Larkhall community of shops. Precious wildlife stands to be ousted by this project. The riverside is a valuable and glorious resource for wildlife and humans alike.”
Bryony Wade agreed. She wrote: “The London Road is really very busy and usually more or less at a standstill. Any more traffic — and there would be lots from a supermarket — will make it a permanent gridlock.
“The area for the proposed development is a lovely wildlife haven and a necessary green space to help counteract the pollution from the road. In our current position where we are trying desperately to reduce carbon emissions. It is hardly suitable to destroy green space and add to carbon emissions with new buildings.”
But others were in support of the move. Susan Lock commented: “Bath is in need of a further discount store and this design presented at the current Lidl’s store shows an awareness of the requirements of a green build.
“This store would also alleviate the current store of the large numbers using the original store and help reduce the travel at the Lower Bristol Road.”
Bath currently has one Lidl store, located in Twerton. The company says that a Lidl in this location — on the far side of Bath — would prevent people from having to travel across the city for discount food, increase shopping choice, and create new jobs.
A consultation event over the plans in May was picketed by protestors opposed to the plan, including ward councillor on Bath and North East Somerset Council Joanna Wright, who said: “This is a green entrance to the city that the Georgians put in place hundreds of years ago […] We should not be building on it. We should be protecting it.”
Lidl stated it had “searched exhaustively” for suitable sites, and that the London Road site was the most suitable, accessible, and convenient.
The company plans to increase biodiversity on the site by 40% through new tree, hedge, and wildflower planting, a seasonal wetland, green roof, bird baths, bat boxes, and bee towers. The woodland by the river would also be retained.
Speaking when the planning application was submitted in June, Lidl GB’s head of property Glen Stidever said: ““We fully recognise the special qualities of the local area and have worked hard to develop suitable proposals, benefiting from engagement with local heritage and architectural experts to inform this exemplar store design. We believe that this work means that we have put together a very compelling case for a new store on this site.”
Councillors have called for the proposal to be publicly debated and decided by the council’s planning committee. Chair of the committee, Duncan Hounsell, said: “This application is of great public interest in both the local and wider area.”
You can view the application here, although comments are now closed: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/webforms/planning/details.html?refval=23%2F02212%2FFUL
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