10:50AM, Thursday 29 July 2021
Lidl wants to take over the former Harveys store in Slough Retail Park
Plans for a new Lidl store in Cippenham took a step closer at a meeting yesterday (Wednesday), despite concerns over traffic congestion nearby.
The Slough Borough Council (SBC) planning committee convened at Observatory House in Windsor Road to discuss the proposals put forward by the German discount food chain, which wants to occupy the old Harveys store within Slough Retail Park.
The former furniture store in Twinches Lane has been vacant since September, and the Express revealed back in February that Lidl was eyeing to take over the space.
An application heard by councillors yesterday evening was for a variation of conditions to allow the sale of food and drink and amend the opening hours and delivery time slots, with planning officers recommending these alterations be delegated to the planning manager for approval.
Speaking on behalf of Lidl, Colin Burnett told the meeting that there was 'strong local support' for the Lidl store, with 94 per cent of Cippenham residents wanting to see it in the retail park.
"Slough Retail Park is an ideal location for a discount food store," he said. "Given the current challenges in the retail sector, it is a major benefit for Cippenham that Lidl want to occupy this empty unit.
"It will add to the range and choice of shopping facilities."
SBC's planning officers added that the new store would 'bring a vacant retail unit back into full use', and create 40 new jobs.
Lidl would take over three units - known as '2C', '3A' and '3B' - with the proposed opening hours changed to 8am-10pm Monday to Saturday (including bank and public holidays), and 10am-6pm on Sundays.
New proposed delivery hours will be between 6am-11pm on Mondays to Fridays, and 6am-11pm on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.
Some councillors on the planning committee did raise concerns over potential traffic congestion arising from the new store, on Twinches Lane and the A4 Bath Road.
Officers said that that a transport assessment has been undertaken, adding that whilst they share councillors' concerns that Twinches Lane 'can be a very busy road', they have taken into consideration 'all factors'.
During the peak hours in the morning, there would be an increase of less than one car every two minutes, while in the evening peak, the store is projected to lead to just over one additional vehicle per minute, officers confirmed.
"That is considered acceptable in terms of traffic impact in the area," they added.
Independent councillor Haqeeq Dar (Wexham Lea) expressed worry over the nearby Eden Girls' School, and asked whether delivery times for Lidl lorries could be amended to avoid the school rush hours.
He also called for an additional exit from the retail park, claiming that he has been 'sat for 20 minutes' before when trying to leave the complex, with the new Lidl store potentially making this problem worse.
"Six months [away] when that [Lidl] is open, we will be screaming," he said. "I drive for a living and I know what I am talking about, so we need to tackle this."
In response to the Eden Girls' School concerns, planning officers agreed that it is 'very congested', but they said that at most, Lidl will have one lorry at the school drop-off time, and one at the pick-up.
"It is something we can discuss with the applicant but we have not had any specific times for deliveries," they said.
"It is something Lidl may be willing to consider, but it is difficult to condition that because the lorries may be running late from the last delivery."
And on the new exit, officers said that the traffic increase proposed is not significant enough to warrant this, but it was something they could discuss.
Cllr Pavitar Mann (Lab, Britwell and Northborough) agreed that an additional exit from the retail park would be a good idea, and urged officers to 'take that away'.
She added that she fully supported the proposed Lidl store.
"There is a need for this type of retail offer in this location and I believe they [Lidl] are using a retail park which has the infrastructure already there," Cllr Mann said.
Cllr Roger Davis (Lab, Cippenham Green) disagreed with his colleague's views, and called their claims of traffic jams on nearby roads 'rubbish'.
"I have popped into The Range and been in and out in ten minutes, I have had no problem at all," he said. "I know at certain [peak] times you might have traffic."
On the proposed new exit, Cllr Davis said that the retail park is not owned by Lidl itself, and doubted that the German firm would put up the money to fund the new junction.
"None of the other shops have asked for it," he added.
The discussion ended with a vote, which saw six councillors go with officer recommendations to delegate the plans to the planning manager for approval.
One councillor voted against, while one abstained from voting.
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