Tue, 14 Jul 2020
PLANS to build a new Lidl on the site of a dilapidated pub, and keep a Lidl presence and jobs in central Newbury, have been submitted.
London Road Limited has applied to demolish The Narrow Boat pub and the Bargain Buys store at the London Road Retail Park off the A4 to accommodate the new store.
Plans to demolish the pub and replace it with retail store Home Bargains were withdrawn last year.
The application faced opposition from the owner of Parkway Shopping and the former owner of the Kennet Shopping centre who said the unit would be “harmful to the vitality and viability of Newbury town centre”.
However, the London Road Retail Park is under new ownership, with the new owner saying the Lidl store would mark the first phase of investment in the site.
Lidl would replace the German discount supermarket currently in London Road, with its lease soon to expire.
Lidl is also opening a new store in part of the former Homebase store at Newbury Retail Park.
Documents say that the lease for the proposed new store at the London Road Retail Park have received board approval, subject to planning and legal agreements.
They add “the success of this application is critical if Lidl’s occupancy is to be secured and the associated benefits realised”.
“Those benefits include the retention of existing Lidl staff at the existing store, the creation of a number of new job opportunities together with investment in the borough of c. £4.5m.”
Lidl said it was leaving its current store on London Road because it is compromised in terms of its operational constraints.
“The existing Lidl is too small to meet the modern operator requirements of Lidl and the range and offer now expected by its customers.
“Lidl therefore has a pressing need to improve their existing offer to serve residents in the north and east of Newbury.”
The application says that 40 jobs will be secured through the new store and that 202 car parking spaces will be provided, an increase of 110, including two electric vehicle charging points.
A retail assessment said that other sites in Newbury and Thatcham had been considered but ruled out, mostly because the available units were too small.
Units considered included retail space at the Market Street development, the Greenham Road Retail Park near the Burger King roundabout and units in Thatcham Broadway and High Street.
The former TK Maxx and Debenhams in the Kennet Shopping centre was also considered.
The assessment said that the new owners were offering short leases for non-retail use, suggesting that “comprehensive redevelopment will be pursued in the near future”.
A lack of dedicated customer car parking for units at Kennet Shopping was also a factor.
Documents said that the multi-storey would fail to provide a viable option due to the high level of shoppers using trolleys.
The level of available parking for a discount foodstore was also uncertain.
Planning documents said that the London Road Retail Park scheme would improve the choice for shoppers and redevelop a brownfield site.
Retaining and delivering new jobs and an investment of around £4.5m in West Berkshire would be “particularly pertinent given the challenging economic climate”.
The applicant said that retail park had suffered from a lack of investment and was underutilised.
The Narrow Boat has been vacant since 2016 and is in a dilapidated state.
Documents state that there is no prospect of a pub reopening on the site and that a lack of demand, combined with the substantial costs of bringing the building back into use, meant it was not viable.
They add that the Covid-19 pandemic had cemented this position.
View and comment on the application by entering 20/01498/COMIND into West Berkshire Council’s planning portal.