Published:
November 24, 2016
Aldi defends new Highbridge store proposals as council debates plan

Supermarket 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.

Two 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.

Aldi 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."

Cllr 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."

Mr 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."

Mike 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 other plans."

Mr 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 application.

Cllr 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.

Cllr 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.

Mr 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."

Alex 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 your service."

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.

Aldi's planning application is due to be formally submitted in December, the firm said, when the proposals will be outlined in more detail.

An 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.

Residents who would like further information regarding Aldi's proposals should email the project team at ALDIHighbridge@planningpotential.co.uk


 

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