DISCOUNT retailer Aldi is set to come to New Milton after district councillors went against planning officers’ recommendation to refuse it.
Members of New Forest District Council’s planning committee approved Aldi’s plan for a store on a site known as Solent Industrial Estate on Caird Avenue at their meeting this morning (Wednesday) – despite a report from officers which preferred a town centre location.
“It seems to me New Milton want this in their town and I think it would be a shame to refuse,” Cllr Arthur Davies said.
Cllr Barry Dunning – who successfully proposed backing Aldi’s scheme – noted there was a possibility Aldi could “walk away” from the town if the plan was turned down.
Because the Caird Avenue site was allocated for employment use and not retail in NFDC’s Local Plan – the keystone document for development in the district up to 2036 – the application had to satisfy a “sequential test” to show Caird Avenue was the most suitable spot for the area’s needs.
NFDC’s planning committee had refused a similar plan by Aldi in May last year for two reasons: it ruled an alternative site in the centre of New Milton – the former Co-op store – was preferable, and was unhappy about the amount of screening.
The latest plan met with the approval of NFDC’s officers in terms of screening, but they still preferred Aldi relocate to the town centre site.
Aldi said it had considered two options in the town centre but they remained unsuitable.
Before making their decision, planning committee members heard several council colleagues lobby for permission, noting the 3,000-member New Milton Residents Association was supportive, and there had been 51 letters from local advocating for an Aldi.
They also heard protests from Greg Davies, a director of Bradbeers – the department store which owns the former Co-op store, the car park behind it and 12 nearby units.
Before the unanimous 14-0 vote – with one abstention – for the Aldi at Caird Avenue, Mr Davies warned members that Aldi’s arrival “might have some way to go” before it comes to fruition.