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Column 26th May 2021

A final decision on plans for Lidl between Wantage and Grove are a step nearer

Last week, I was glued to Zoom listening to the Appeal hearing for the Lidl Planning Application.

In 2018 an application was submitted to build a Class A1 retail foodstore in the field just north of the Mably Way roundabout.

The application was for a supermarket and 128 parking spaces with (initially) sharing access to the A338 with Elm Farm Business Park.

As the application progressed, the access changed so that it would be separate from Elm Farm and have its own entrance between that of the Business Park and the Roundabout.

At one point the exit from the store car park was going to be one way only (going south to the roundabout) but Highways decided that this wasn’t necessary so this condition was removed.

The application gained a lot of publicity at the time as many residents liked the idea of another supermarket (probably Lidl) in the area.

Others felt that this was the wrong place and would add to the congestion at the roundabout, and would reduce the green gap between Wantage and Grove.

Eventually, the application went to the Planning Committee in January 2020 and was turned down because “the proposed scheme was not well integrated into the local character of the area and is at odds with the rural interface and the important role that the site plays in terms of visual and physical separation of Wantage and Grove”.

In addition “the proposal would harm the vitality and viability of the Grovelands centre” and “fails to guard against the potential and unnecessary loss of the Post Office”.

An appeal was then submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and the hearing took place last week.

Over a day and a half eminent experts argued about the impact of a 2000 square metre supermarket with associated parking on a field between the Mably Roundabout and Elm Farm Business Park.

Those in favour argued that it would be smaller than the new Care Home and the green space wasn’t important. They suggested that a “limited assortment discount foodstore” was needed.

Those against argued that the green gap was important and that a new supermarket would be the death of the Co-op in Grovelands and the loss of the Post Office in Grove.

No one mentioned the impact on the roads at all.

Now the Inspector will visit the site and deliberate on what he has heard.

In a month or two he will deliver his verdict.


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