A move into neighbouring units at the retail park is back on the cards
Aldi has resubmitted plans to move into soon to be vacant units within the Farnborough Gate Retail Park.
After having withdrawn a planning application to move into the site on the day of a Rushmoor Borough Council development management committee meeting on January 15, the discount supermarket is again proposing to replace the neighbouring Halfords and Next Clearance units.
Plans have been made for units 2A and 3 to be refurbished, amalgamated and converted into the discount food store with an adjoining cafe.
Work is currently ongoing to relocate Halfords into the unit currently under construction in the shopping park, while Next Clearance will be closing and relying solely on the Next at The Meadows in Sandhurst.
To negate concerns over parking, which is already an issue, and traffic backing out to the Bradfords Roundabout and A331, Aldi is proposing to widen the vehicular access to provide twin exit lanes.
An initial planning application had been recommended for refusal by council officers, but a second application was made on February 24.
Aldi says it withdrew due to the council requiring further consideration over highways issues and a possible alternative site within the town. However, the supermarket has resubmitted an identical application, including the Solartron Retail Park.
It adds that the store would bring 50 new jobs and investment to Rushmoor in excess of £2million.
Other sites, including Solartron, Kingsmead and the Civic Quarter, have all been considered by Aldi, but concerns have been raised over the viability or suitability of each.
Councillor Mike Smith, Conservative for Empress ward, raised concerns about the plans and the effect an Aldi would have on traffic and parking.
He said: “It is a very popular store, but there would be much better areas of Farnborough for it to go that would not cause chaos. It would be welcome in any reasonable spot, but not there. At the moment, it is a very tight situation and access is difficult.
“It is already an issue now and it would attract that many more motorists to the area. I would suggest looking at the new civic centre. They could ensure themselves on the new Farnborough town centre. It would be ideal and residents have already said to me they would love to see it.
“I would welcome it anywhere else in the town, it is a popular store and I would shop there myself. I speak for any resident that they welcome it, but we need to look at the bigger issue.”
However, Aldi has said that a move to the site would provide the local community with access to affordable produce, benefit the local economy and improved consumer choice.
Cllr Adrian Newell added: “I am aware that parking is an issue, but the layout has changed and that has improved things to what it was before, but you are right that a shop like Aldi could have an impact but that would be reviewed as part of the planning process. They would not be allowed in without looking at the parking.
“From my perspective, I would welcome the fact that a shop like Aldi is going in to ensure that no shops are being left empty. We do not want empty units so from that point of view, it is a good thing. It will need to be looked at from the parking side.”
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