Erith Lidl rejected again by Bexley Council
PUBLISHED: 12:41 27 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 04 February 2020
Plans for a new Lidl in Erith have been rejected again by Bexley Council's planning committee.
Despite multiple councillors agreeing that a supermarket would benefit nearby residents, they agreed that policies "protecting" the industrial area couldn't be overruled.
It's the second time Lidl's plans for the Atlas Trade Park have been refused.
Council officers told members before the debate that both London and Bexley-wide policies had the land "safeguarded for commercial uses".
Officers added that the London Plan, which designates where thousands of homes and businesses will be built in the city over the coming decades, had designed Bexley as a "retained borough".
This meant all land currently designated for industrial use in the borough must stay that way - meaning Lidl's application, which would be a retail use including selling food, had to be refused.
Ahead of debate, councillors were addressed by an applicant representing Lidl, who said the development "wouldn't be a detrimental loss of employment land", with 40 jobs predicted for the supermarket.
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She added it was in an area that had a "long-standing use for retail", and would add another much-needed supermarket option for Erith residents.
Cllr Joe Ferreira (Labour, Erith) said that messages from constituents on the proposal had been mixed - "50-50 or even 60-40 in favour".
He added: "It's disappointing the scheme doesn't propose any other social infrastructure or housing on the site…(but) a concern of mine and some residents is that if this is refused and the current stores close, the site could become an eyesore."
Cllr John Davey (Conservative, West Heath) said he was concerned that approving the Lidl could further draw customers away from Erith town centre, which he has "has been on the edge of being viable for decades".
Cllr Val Clark (Conservative, Falconwood and Welling) said the council could not "pick and choose the rules we wish to obey and the rules we wish to ignore…we don't actually have the luxury of doing as we please".
Cllr Brian Bishop (Barnehurst, Conservative) said: "For me it's location, location, location.
"This is land designated for industrial employment…we know what's going to happen (if Lidl appeal a rejection). This is not land on which you'd be granted permission to build a supermarket."
"For me, the situation quite clear - yes we do not need this supermarket in the borough."