defends new Highbridge store proposals as council debates plan
giant Aldi last night defended its plans to build a huge new store
on Highbridge's Isleport Business Park amid concern about its impact
on traffic and existing local businesses.
representatives of the German supermarket chain attended a Town
Council meeting on Wednesday evening (November 23rd), as pictured
here, where they discussed the firm's plans for the first time.
Property Director Rob Jones said: "We're really keen to expand
into Highbridge, since it currently lacks a discount store, and
help to kick-start further investment into the area. We will be
creating 40 jobs for local people."
John Parkes, below, said: "I expect to see a full, comprehensive
retail assessment on the impact of this store. A store of this size
will have an impact on our local shops. We already have discount
stores here in the Co-Op and One Stop. We need to carefully consider
this before any decision is made."
Jones responded: "Aldi only sells 1,500 lines - a fraction
of the range of products others offer. We provide a very different
offering, so we compliment existing shops."
Murphy from Highbridge Chamber of Trade asked: "Is this the
start of wider development at the business park. There have been
rumours about a drive-through fast food restaurant for a while -
is that correct?" Mr Jones said: "What the land owner
does with this site is his business, but we are not aware of any
Murphy went on to express concerns about road safety at the entrance
to the store, which would be close to a busy A38 roundabout onto
the business park. "The store would be next to an incredibly
busy roundabout, which would be a concern." Mr Jones responded
that a full traffic report would be prepared with Aldi's planning
Louise Parkin, pictured below, said she is "really seriously
worried" about access to the proposed store given the busy
traffic flows running past the site - a point that Aldi says it
is aware of and considering.
Parkin went on to ask how Aldi could guarantee local people would
get the store's 40 new jobs if the company abides by free and open
employment legislation. "This is a very misleading message
to the general public and I dislike your attitude," she said.
Jones responded: "I do apologise for that slip of the tongue
and any misconception. We are just keen to provide an investment
into the local area."
Turco from Burnham Chamber of Trade also spoke during the meeting,
saying: "We have an open mind at the moment and need more data
and facts about the store's impact. We're not saying 'no' to Aldi
- we encourage investment into the area - but we need to understand
the opportunity that Aldi sees in the Burnham and Highbridge area.
We want to see hard evidence that there is an un-met demand for
Councillors are hoping to secure so-called '106 funding' from Aldi
for the area to off-set the development of the new store. Cllr Andy
Brewer said one possibility could be earmarking funds towards a
new safe cycle path through the area.
planning application is due to be formally submitted in December,
the firm said, when the proposals will be outlined in more detail.
information leaflet is being distributed to 3,000 residents and
businesses in the surrounding area this week asking for local views
before the company submits its formal application.
who would like further information regarding Aldi's proposals should
email the project team at ALDIHighbridge@planningpotential.co.uk