Thu, 05 Dec 2019
CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a Lidl store in Tadley have moved a step closer after councillors approved the proposal despite concerns about a satisfactory emergency plan in the event of a nuclear disaster.
The Office for Nuclear Regulation had a holding objection to the proposal, however councillors at yesterday’s West Berkshire Eastern Area Planning Committee meeting voted for the plan with a majority of four to three on the pre-condition that an acceptable emergency plan would be developed.
As the councillors went against the recommendation of the planning officers, the final decision on the application will now be made by the West Berkshire District Planning Committee.
In front of a packed public gallery full of Tadley residents keen to see the proposal approved, councillors voiced their frustration that an adequate emergency plan hadn’t been developed in time for the meeting, before weighing up the pros and cons of building the discount store.
Council planners had originally recommended the application be refused on the basis that it would damage the countryside and affect the character of the landscape.
Committee chairman Alan Law (Con, Basildon) said they needed exceptional reasons to go against the planning officers’ recommendation, as it could potentially set a precedent for other developments.
Councillors heard from local resident Catherine Wilde who said it was vital that the town had more choice.
She said: “As a lifelong resident of Tadley I’ve always felt our grocery options are limited. We can go to Sainsbury’s or we’re forced to go all the way to Newbury.
“As someone disabled and less well off, the option of a discount store would be valuable to me. People would simply divert from Sainsbury’s so it wouldn’t affect traffic.”
Jo Stewart (Con, Tilehurst Birch Copse) said: “I was quite overwhelmed by the amount of support that this application had. I understand it’s quite unprecedented.
“I was divided and sitting on the fence but when we listened to the very eloquent speakers who support it, I can understand why that area has grown and I really do believe people need choice and I like the idea that people don’t have to travel as far to have that choice.
“However I’m concerned about the precedent and the use of a green field site and whether there’s any other option we could look at.”
Alan Macro (Lib Dem, Theale) said: “I’m not at all happy about a green field site going to a supermarket. Another thing I’m concerned about is the proximity of the AWE. If I had my way I wouldn’t allow anything to be built in that proximity.”
Andrew Williamson (Con, Tilehurst and Purley) said: “One of the things I’m conscious of is our responsibility with regard to the climate emergency.
“My view is there’s a number of cars on the road going to other locations, causing a significant amount of Co2 pollution. I’m looking at the green impact on a green field site versus the reduction of cars going to other sites. So I think that’s an exceptional reason for this.”