ALDI could take its proposed store to another town if plans for a branch in New Milton are rejected a second time, it has warned.
The German discount company still wants to develop land at Solent Industrial Estate in Caird Avenue after its previous application was turned down by New Forest District Council’s planning committee in May by just one vote.
One of the main reasons for refusal was that councillors felt the store would be better built at the site of a former Co-op in Station Road.
A fresh proposal for the same out-of-town site was put forward in September, and Aldi representative Dan Templeton told a recent online meeting of New Milton Town Council’s planning committee that it still believed the high street site was not suitable.
None of the plans offered adequate retail floorspace or parking spaces, Mr Templeton said – and he warned that if the latest Caird Avenue proposal is rejected, Aldi may choose to consider another town.
He explained options for the former Co-op site would create a blank frontage in Station Road due to the door having to be closest to parking arrangements.
NFDC’s previous refusal of the Caird Avenue location – near the Tesco supermarket – prompted some amendments to the new proposal, including greater screening on the eastern and southern boundaries.
A £20,000 contribution will also be made towards pedestrian and cycle facilities, and the provision of a pedestrian crossing island in Caird Avenue.
At the meeting, Greg Davies, representing department store chain Bradbeers, which bought the former Co-op store in 2017, argued Aldi had made no material change to its application since the previous refusal.
He also maintained the Station Road site was both suitable and available for the discount store.
But New Milton Residents’ Association Chairman Alan Watson told the meeting that a straw poll of members found 65% of 468 respondents supported Aldi’s latest proposal, with 29% against. The association strongly recommended approval, he said.
The town council planning committee agreed to submit a comment to NFDC that Aldi’s new plan was acceptable, subject to suggested ecological enhancement and an adequate management plan.
The committee had also recorded an “acceptable” ruling for Aldi’s previous proposal, subject to all HGVs entering Caird Avenue from the A337 only.
Following last Friday’s public consultation deadline, NFDC had received 46 supportive comments and 11 against.
A final decision by NFDC is due by 21st December.