Earlier this week, we heard the news that Lidl’s intended, as Owners of the former Police Station site on Instone Road to redevelop the site as a new mixed-use development, incorporating a neighbourhood discount food store and six residential units.
We reported on this in an article ‘Lidl and Dartford’ which covered the reasons why their previous application had been refused by Dartford Borough Council, according to the minutes of the Development Control Board’s meeting.
As a result of this, Dartford Matters asked Lidl several questions relating to the previous application and their proposals for the future and I’m pleased that William Barker, Acquisitions Manager for Lidl UK, has taken the time to answer these questions.
DM – One of the reasons Dartford Borough Council gave for refusing the previous application in 2012 was ‘the proposal would adversely impact the vitality and viability of Dartford Town Centre given the site’s edge-of-centre location and will undermine the Council’s strategy for the regeneration of the town centre’. As the proposed development will be on the same site, what makes you think DBC will change their view?
Lidl – Lidl’s preference would be to identify a site within the town centre boundary which is available, suitable and viable. Lidl has actively been pursuing alternative sites within the town centre however, to date, it hasn’t materialised. The planning system requires retailers such as Lidl to satisfy the ‘Sequential Approach’ firstly considering sites within the town centre, if these sites are neither available, viable or suitable then edge-of-town-centre sites can be considered. Lidl has been actively trying to develop a food store within Dartford since coming to the UK in 1994.
DM – DBC also stated ‘the applicant has failed to demonstrate flexibility on the format of the proposals or a willingness to engage with landowners/managers on alternative sites. There is little evidence that sites which would support the Council’s strategy for revitalisation of the town centre have been given proper consideration’. Would you like to comment on this and advise the residents of Dartford whether you have considered other sites and if so, how many and were there any specific problems or issues with these sites?
Lidl – Lidl would disagree with this comment. Lidl had canvassed the Council and landowners about town centre sites regularly. Lidl has continued to monitor all sites in Dartford town centre.
DM – By now proposing a mixed use development, including six residential apartments, do you think that this will help this new application?
Lidl – Lidl is hoping to show that it is flexible and willing to work with the Council in order to provide a new development that will help improve what is currently a vacant site.
DM – Would you care to comment on DBC’s points on the previous application that ‘the proposal is of a poor design, whilst the choice of materials is out of keeping with the area’ and ‘the applicant has failed to commit to an appropriate level of financial contributions towards town centre infrastructure’.
Lidl – Lidl’s new proposal has taken on board the Council’s comments. The proposed two storey building is of a contemporary design with materials reflective of the surrounding area.
Once again, my thanks to Mr Barker for his cooperation and responses.