WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 27th July 2022

Could a new supermarket be combined with a school?

An article in the Herald last week mentioned that there was a petition urging Vale of White Horse District Council to approve plans for a Lidl on a green field east of Grove Road, next to Elm Farm Business Park.

In 2018, an application was submitted by Lidl and the landowners to the District Council for the erection of a retail food store between Wantage and Grove.

The proposed development was a new Lidl food store with associated car park and landscaping to be built on pasture land just north east of the Mably Way roundabout.

This was refused by an inspector on the grounds that the impact of the proposal on Grovelands (and the Co-op) was significant and contravened the local plan.

In 2021, Lidl submitted a further application for a slightly smaller store on the same site in the hope that this would not have such a large impact on the trade for the Co-op.

Once again, opinion is split for and against.

Most people want an alternative supermarket in the area to compete with Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, the Co-op, Tesco Express in Grove and Rowes in Wantage, and Lidl’s prices do seem to be consistently cheaper.

Most of the adverse comment is purely because of the location.

It is a green field site (which are getting scarce in the area) between Wantage and Grove and very close to the Mably Roundabout.

It is also on the main cycleway between Wantage and Grove.

Any supermarket car park has a stream of traffic coming and going during opening hours and (given the level of interest shown) this definitely won’t be any different and will make using the cycleway very difficult.

So is there another suitable location?

Lidl has built a new store in Twickenham recently with a primary school above it.

The architecture of the building is very interesting as Lidl is on the ground floor with a car park below and above the shop is the school for 420 pupils with a rooftop, open air playground.

It is a space efficient structure and a prime example of modern architecture which could be matched here if the planners and developers were creative enough.

We are building new primary schools on Grove Airfield so this could be a possibility.

Of course this is the Vale of the White Horse and we’d much prefer to build on green fields and use as much space as possible.

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