A new Lidl is set to open on the outskirts of Paignton.
The supermarket and two smaller stores will be built on an area to the west of Kings Ash Road that is currently vacant and will involve the creation of a new junction.
It will have parking for 137 vehicles, including nine disabled spaces, nine parent and child spaces. As part of the planning conditions, council officers will now decide how many electric charging spaces will be required.
The plans, which have now been agreed by Torbay Council’s planning committee, have already split opinions amongst local residents. It is thought 218 representations were sent in by 185 people, of which 150 expressed support, 63 objected and seven were neutral.
The store is four times larger than the one proposed in the council’s local plan. Some people argued this would lead to an unacceptable loss of housing land while others said it would finally make the building of homes nearby possible.
The land has been proposed for development since at least the early 1990s but has been vacant for decades and overgrown with vegetation until 2020.
A news spine road will be built as part of the new Kings Ash Road Lidl, which could open up the land next door for housing by saving potential developers having to carry out the work themselves.
The dilemma over the loss of housing land took centre stage for planners, especially with Torbay Council behind on its housing targets.
Those on the planning committee in favour said the larger store was a price worth paying for the chance to finally build new homes in the area by creating the new road. Those against the proposals said it would ultimately hamstring the council by taking away the chance to make the most of the potential housing land at some point in the future.
Cllr Karen Kennedy argued that the loss of the housing land was unacceptable and said the store was one too many for Torbay.
“I don’t think we need a Lidl on every street corner, to be honest,” she said.
Cllr Judith Mills said: “In the back of my mind I feel we’re being held to ransom. If we don’t have the road we don’t have the houses and the houses are what we need.”
The new road for the Kings Ash Road Lidl would result in around 145 metres of tree belt being lost from the north of the development.
Natural England and Devon County Council’s ecologist raised no objections to the plans, subject to the environmental impact being offset by the creation and management of new habitats elsewhere.
In a statement included in the council’s report, Paignton Neighbourhood Forum said: “This application typifies a lip-service approach to the legal requirements of biodiversity and ecology, at the expense of the local residents of our (potentially) beautiful town of Paignton.”
It also described the scheme as “oversized and out of character” and raised concerns that the new Lidl will take money away from local business owners and the town centre.
Kings Ash councillor Jacquelline Thomas argued that the new store will help “turn the tide on poverty” in the area.
She said it would provide affordable fruit and veg to residents and a discount supermarket to people who might not have a car.
Up to 40 jobs are to be created as a result of the new Lidl, however it is likely that the German retailer’s current shop in Victoria Square in Paignton town centre will close.
Cllr Barbara Lewis said she had “major concerns” with the plans, in part because she feared it would undermine Paignton town centre.
She said: “To me, it just doesn’t make sense. What we need is a supermarket in the centre of town and housing on the ring road.
“We’re ruining town centres by doing big development like this.”
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