Lidl 'objection' from BW
We have recently submitted a response to the formal planning application for the proposed Lidl store - full details, and download are available here.
Our July newsletter reported our thoughts on the proposed application by Lidl to build a new supermarket on the edge of Wetherby. This was followed up by an article in Wetherby News
It was subsequently dicussed at length on social media (Facebook -Wetherby Grumbler) with a wide range of comments.
Roger Owen, Chair of Better Wetherby Partnership (BW) has responded to Social Media comments following the recent BW Newsletter and Press Release which opposed the Lidl plan for a store and retirement accommodation on the site of the existing Mercure Hotel.
BETTER WETHERBY RESPONDS TO LIDL CRITICISMS.
“I have seen a short but loud outbreak of comments about the position BW has taken, some of which are incorrect in the interpretation of what we said, some made out of lack of knowledge of the Planning system, some made out of a lack of knowledge as to what BW is about and others directed at what are seen as my personal interests. I want to correct those matters.”
“Firstly, BW is not opposed to a Lidl store in Wetherby but we are opposed to the development of a store on the Mercure site which is all we tried to say in our releases. Ten years have passed since J. Sainsbury had their Planning Application for this site refused, the principal, amongst other reasons, was such a development would be detrimental to the vitality and viability of the Town Centre and I think it is significant that Sainsbury did not appeal the Refusal. Being very experienced in these matters they clearly would weigh up the chances of success and decided they could not succeed and rightly so in Planning terms”.
“As BW has pointed out, over recent times the Leeds Site Allocation Plan (SAP) has been examined and adopted as the ‘rule book’ as to what development should be allowed where and the Mercure site has not been allocated for retail, simply retirement type living. As Lidl have not deposited a Planning Application there is only the principle to discuss and the SAP says, pure and simple, no retail. If Lidl were to come up with a site which could gain Planning Consent, fair enough but Mercure is not it, this is an important gateway to the Town, in a conservation area setting. In addition to the SAP allocation the site could be redeveloped with a modern hotel as some on Social Media have suggested”.
“Secondly there have been some suggestions BW are against development in any form, not true. Having made representations about Racecourse Approach / Swinnow Park which was allocated in the SAP for 1100 homes, followed by representations to Leeds City around the first 800 homes by Taylor Wimpey, BW have worked for the last two years with the Developer to get the best we can for the Town and future residents by close examination of the fifty or so Conditions which the Developer has to satisfy before Reserved Matters Planning Consent is granted and they can start construction which will run to around 2035. Through this BW has been surprised with the lack of knowledge in the Town as to the stress this development will put on services, highways, air quality and schools. At the Dickensian Market last December many residents didn’t know of the development and wanted to know how it could be stopped. The answer is it can’t and neither can the remaining 300 homes which are yet to be applied for by Persimmon. What BW has done is hold the Developer to providing as much an exemplar scheme as we can and those on Social Media should know as a Partnership we have Ward Councillors, the Town Council, Wetherby Civic Society and associates in Kirk Deighton, Collingham and Linton alongside us. The Racecourse development will have massive impact but those involved have all been united in our discussions with the developer who has been co-operative and receptive”.
“In other areas BW was successful in fighting the Planning Appeal of Stockeld Estate to build over 200 homes adjoining the Bellway development on Spofforth Hill. In January, 2017 I had been told by Harrogate B.C. that the aim of Stockeld was some 1500 homes between Spofforth and the Wetherby boundary and BW saw the Application we fought as, rightly or wrongly, being a prelude to a massive development putting more strain on our Town”.
“BW and our partners are not just about Planning issues and we are not NIMBYs, we are very much involved in other areas, for example, the proper restitution of Bridleways and footpaths around Harland Way and the Bellway development, Green issues and sustainability in partnership with local Green Groups and so on”.
“We are a Company limited by guarantee, indicating we are a not for profit organisation, all our people are volunteers and, as our Newsletter regularly says, we are looking for more talent. If people put themselves forward and we feel they can contribute they would see what we are about and then perhaps not be quite so quick to hit their keyboards.” (see also 'About us')
Mr. Owen went on to say “There has also been comment about my involvement with the Lidl situation having an element of self interest given my previous employment as Group Property Director of Morrisons. Yes, I sat on the Main Board for 22 years and in the days of the Company as a Plc, I was second longest serving to Sir Ken himself but I retired in January 2009 and resigned as Chair of the Morrison Charitable Trust, Chair of the Insurance subsidiary and Director of some smaller subsidiary companies at the same time. My wife and I retained a small number of shares which were disposed of at the start of the current year when Morrisons were taken over by an American Private Equity Group and went private. I have no remaining interests in the Group”.