Plans to build a new Aldi supermarket have been strongly opposed by town councillors and local businesses this week amid growing concern that the store would severely hurt trade in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge.

Aldi’s own research indicates that Lidl in Burnham could lose 19.4% of its trade due to the proposed new store on the Isleport Industrial estate.

And Aldi’s research also shows that existing Burnham town centre stores that sell competing goods may lose 7.3% of their trade, threatening the viability of the town centre it’s claimed, which has already suffered a decline in footfall since the closure of Morrisons in 2015.

A petition of businesses opposed to the Aldi plans has already been signed by 62 concerned firms.

At a meeting of the Town Council’s Planning Applications Committee on Monday evening (January 30th), members heard concerns from Burnham Chamber of Trade and local community group BOS Events.

“The average spend on a trip to Lidl or Aldi is £18.85, according to data from Kantar WorldPanel, so the expected 19.4% loss of trade at Burnham’s Lidl store is estimated by Aldi at £1.05 million,” said the Chamber of Trade. “Therefore, if this loss of revenue is made up of average visits worth £18.85, this is a loss of 55,700 visits per year to Lidl in Burnham-On-Sea.”

“It is also estimated by Kantar WorldPanel that 94% of all customers of Lidl and Aldi shop elsewhere. So, if 94% of all customers to Lidl were also to shop in Burnham-On-Sea Town Centre, then the loss of visits to the Town Centre would be around 52,000 in a year or 1,000 per week. This would be a further fall of footfall of around 5.1%.”

“The Chamber’s view is that Aldi’s opening would have a detrimental impact to the vitality and viability of Burnham-On-Sea Town Centre when the 19.4% loss of trade of Lidl is added to the cumulative effect of the closure of Morrisons and the opening of B&M. The Chamber welcomes investment in the area generally and would welcome Aldi in another location.”

Gaynor Brown of BOS Events, right, added: “The proposed Aldi store would be as big as the Pier Street store now occupied by B&M and bigger than the Tesco extension which killed off Morrisons. Aldi would kill the Co-Op in Highbridge and Lidl in Burnham.”

“This is not a sustainable development because it kills two towns, reduces our choice, creates a need to travel out of town, and diverts much-needed B1 industrial land contrary to Sedgemoor District Council’s Core Strategy.”

Cllr Louise Parkin said: “This store would see a change in use from B1 industrial land to A1 commercial – Isleport has always been set aside to create industrial employment. What we would gain with Aldi, just 27 jobs, we would lose from future employment on this land. It should be factories and industry here, not a supermaket that puts an existing store – Lidl – in jeopardy.”

“Highbridge town centre is on a knife-edge at the moment. Maisey’s bakery in Market Street has been there since 1865 – we cannot put shops like that at risk. I would be ashamed of myself if I voted for this supermarket,” she said.

And Cllr John Parkes added: “This Aldi store would contradict Sedgemoor’s Core Strategy and would have a big negative impact on Burnham and Highbridge – I would be concerned about the Co-Op and Maiseys. It could be the death knell for the town centre.”

Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton, right, said: “We have seen strong evidence about the negative impact on our town centres this evening and we must listen to these concerns. Also I am concerned that an Aldi store at Isleport is not accessible to many people without a car. It’s out of town and they haven’t demonstrated a need for a new store there.”

Cllr Andy Brewer also raised concerns about accessing the site, given that it is not on a cycle route, is on an HGV lorry route into the business park, with no public transport. “It feels like an inappropriate location for a supermarket,” he said.

He added: “There are many residents who would like a new Aldi store here, which we will take into consideration.” But Cllr Parkin added: “They wouldn’t want it when they realise it would lead to two depressed town centres.”

Cllr Paul Young added: “We should object to this application strongly and do whatever it takes to stop it.

Councillors unanimously voted to strongly object against the supermarket plans, however the final decision rests with Sedgemoor District Council.

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