New Lidl would sound "death knell" for other Milton Keynes businesses - claim

A Lidl plan for a new food store has been recommended for approval despite councillors rejecting a similar scheme only last year on a site that's just a stone's throw away.

In 2018, amid a flurry of local opposition, councillors went against their officers' advice to throw out the earlier Lidl plan for the farmland off Wolverton Road, between Redhouse Park and the M1, in Milton Keynes.

Wolverton Road, in Milton Keynes

Wolverton Road, in Milton Keynes

They were concerned that the store would have an harmful impact on the existing Newport Pagnell town centre, as well as district and local centres. It would also go against local policies that have earmarked the site for housing.

Since then, the council's planning bible, Plan:MK, has allocated roughly half the 3.35 hectare site, known as The Walnuts, for housing. But on the eastern site, closest to the M1, it has allocated for a mix of retail and/or employment uses and that's where Lidl want to build the new store.

Local residents and businesses in nearby Newport Pagnell have continued their opposition. Businesses are worried that any new store will hit trade in the town and the concerns will be relayed to Thursday's meeting of Milton Keynes Council's development control committee.

"The fundamental issue of a substantial increase in vehicle movements on what is essentially a commuter route is unacceptable," said residents Paul and Wendy Richardson in a submission to the council.

"For residents in this area it is already difficult to travel at rush hours and even worse when there are issues on the M1. The road into Newport Pagnell and the V10 are regularly just a stream of cars, this will only get worse with other residential developments in Newport Pagnell."

In common with representation from businesses in Newport Pagnell, they add: "In a time when councils are trying to protect struggling High Streets in one fell swoop this development with sound a death knell to several small businesses in Newport Pagnell."

There were also objections that the site would attract yobs, homeless people, skip divers ,and have an "impact on domestic cats".

In their statement to the council planners, Lidl's archictects, Whittam Cox, say the 2,214 sq-m store, with 167 car parking and 36 cycle spaces, will offer wider choice to consumers and will generate new jobs.

"We feel that the proposal will be well received by local residents and visitors to Newport Pagnell," they say. The store is expected to create 40 new roles.

In justifying his recommendation to councillors, senior planning officer Christopher Walton said: "It is considered that the scheme, on balance, addresses the refusal reasons associated with the 2018 application, while also delivering additional economic benefits via job creation associated with the store.

"Overall, the development would both represent sustainable development while also contributing towards the aims and objectives of Plan:MK."

Thursday's Development Control Committee will meet from 7pm at Milton Keynes Council, Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, MK9 3EJ. Members of the public can attend the meeting.