Step back for Huntingdon Lidl

CUT-price supermarket chain Lidl has suffered another setback in its plans to open a store in Huntingdon.

Plans have been submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council for the third time in 10 years – but town councillors have recommended they are refused, despite backing Lidl’s last application.

Huntingdon Town Council’s planning committee met in the town hall on Thursday last week (July 5).

Chairman Stuart Hassell welcomed Wendy Hurst, from Lidl, who presented a report on the firm’s revised plans – which now include a social housing scheme.

However, district councillor Mike Shellens addressed the committee to say he was against the plans, which would have a negative impact on Huntingdon’s High Street and would cause traffic problems along Ermine Street.

Committee member Councillor Alan Mackender-Lawrence agreed with Cllr Shellens concerns.

He said: “Knowing that road and that junction as much as I do, I can see it’s an accident looking for a place to happen. It’s the right store but in the wrong place.”

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He explained that the core strategy for Huntingdon did not include plans for another supermarket outside the town centre and that the significant redevelopment of Chequers Court would make several very large properties closer to the High Street available.

However, Councillor Sid Akhtar said he didn’t think the plans would have any impact on Huntingdon, arguing that thousands of customers using Tesco Extra at the other end of St Peter’s Road on a daily basis didn’t affect the town centre.

He added that there was a market for Lidl in Huntingdon.

Councillor Tom Sanderson said: “I do have very big concerns about traffic. It’s a difficult one to balance. I want to see more jobs and housing in Huntingdon and there are undoubtedly benefits with these plans.”

The new store, with around 100 car and three bus parking spaces, could provide jobs for 40 full-time equivalent staff members.

Three councillors voted in favour of the plans but with five votes against them the decisions was to recommend refusal.

A decision is likely to be made in September and, if approved, the Lidl store could open in summer 2013.