A major supermarket development in Whitchurch has been refused.
Aldi hoped to build a store off Wrexham Road but the controversial proposal failed to receive the support of the North Shropshire planning committee yesterday.
Members raised concerns on the impact it would have on town centre shops, including the existing Lidl store in Bridgewater Street, as well as on tourism and heritage, increased traffic and its location.
Cllr Pauline Dee also questioned why Aldi had not utilised the Waymills site in the town which they received permission to develop in 2009 – although the company no longer owns that site.
She continued: “I can quite understand why people in the town would like to have this, but I am concerned about the impact it will have.
“Market towns are suffering in this economic climate.
“But I had forgotten about Aldi having the site at Waymills and they must have spent a lot of money on that – why haven’t they used it?”
Cllr Joyce Barrow added: “Whitchurch town centre has gone through a wonderful revamp over the last few years and our officers have been working hard to get people into the town shops and it has been successful.
“But with this application we will get people going to Aldi on the outskirts.
“I also think it will be detrimental on tourism.”
Cllr Vince Hunt said it was “a good idea in the wrong location”.
However, Cllr Mark Jones was in favour of the proposal, commenting: “I think it is a fantastic site.
“I think people are going past Whitchurch at the moment and this will create a vibrant entrance to the town.
“It will bring jobs, it will bring competition to Lidl and the town centre but everyone is under pressure.”
Previously, the committee was criticised by residents who said Aldi is needed by those living in the town.
Mary Gates said: “I go to Nantwich to shop at Aldi. Why should I go out of my town when we have a proposal for an Aldi in Whitchurch?”
Gill Hazelhurst added: “We have got three supermarkets and all these extra houses means there’s not enough variety.
“You have no thought for the people who shop and we need another supermarket.”
Cllr John Sinnott, on behalf of Whitchurch Town Council, told the meeting how it did not object to Aldi coming to the town but did have concerns about the location.
But Anthony Crean QC, who has previously represented Shropshire Council at planning appeals and won several of them, warned that if application was not approved and did go to appeal he would represent Aldi.
He told the committee if it was approved and Lidl saw through its ‘threat’ to take the decision to appeal Aldi had already confirmed it would pay the authority costs, adding: “If you grant permission the Lidl store won’t close.
“There are 47 towns in the UK where Aldi has opened in competition with Lidl and none of those Lidl stores closed.
“This would create competition, but competition is good.”