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Lidl seeks full permission for Downham Market store

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Proposals for a discount foodstore on the outskirts of Downham, which split the borough planners in May, have moved on to the next stage in the planning process.

Outline approval for the Lidl store was finally given by the narrow margin of nine votes to seven.

Now West Norfolk Council is being asked to approve the full application for the site which will be on the southern side of Bexwell Road.

Lidl set to open at Downham
Lidl set to open at Downham

Lidl states that it will bring increased competition and consumer choice for shoppers and create 40 new jobs.

The plans show a single storey building in a contemporary design will extend to 2,175 square metres with a sales area of 1,414 square metres.

There will be 138 parking spaces including disabled and mother and child bays and cycle bays, trolley bays and two electric vehicle charging points. The site will be extensively landscaped and accessed from Bexwell Road.

There were some highly charged debates before the outline approval was granted, with the borough planning committee rejecting the recommendations of their planning officers.

Main concerns hinged on the impact it might have on the town centre retailers and the additional traffic that it would bring to a busy roundabout and surrounding roads.

There was also some criticism of the £50,000 which Lidl had offered to be spent in the town centre. Some councillors claimed it was not enough and was just a drop in the ocean to Lidl.

Lidl distributed nearly 6,000 leaflets to households outlining their plans. There were 842 replies including more than 700 to an online questionnaire.

The full application reveals that most of the local residents are “happy to see the proposed development with a significant proportion of the additional comments highlighting that they would like the Lidl store to be open as soon as possible.”

Many respondents stated that the proposal would provide an additional retail offering for Downham, highlighting that there are only two supermarkets in the locality.

A proportion of respondents expressed their concerns about the increased traffic on Bexwell Road as the scheme might attract residents from neighbouring villages or towns. Many respondents were supportive of the scheme, welcoming the additional employment opportunities.

A few individuals stated that more disabled parking should be provided through the scheme as Downham has a high proportion of older people. A few respondents expressed concerns about the limited public transportation available along Bexwell Road. And some respondents expressed their concerns of the scheme’s proximity to the Bexwell Road/A10 roundabout junction.

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