A bid to regenerate the Lidl site in Morpeth town centre, by building a larger store on an expanded site, was given the go-ahead this week.
At Tuesday night’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee, members gave unanimous approval to the scheme, which involves the existing Lidl site on Stanley Terrace, former petrol station and Sanderson’s car park.
The existing vehicular access points to all three will be closed off from Corporation Yard and Stanley Terrace and a new access will be created for both customer and delivery vehicles.
There will be two additional pedestrian access points; one to the north-west of the site from Stanley Terrace, and the second at the south-west of the site, providing direct access from Corporation Yard.
The proposal would deliver a reconfigured car park with 116 parking spaces, including six disabled spaces and six parent and child spaces, near the store’s customer entrance at the north-west corner.
The application had been approved under delegated powers, but this approval was quashed following a judicial review.
At the meeting, Coun Jeff Reid asked for more details about this process, wanting to be sure that the council had addressed the issues.
Planning officer Tony Carter said that it had been challenged on two grounds; that the decision was delegated and should have gone to committee in the first place and that the council had not assessed it in relation to the Equalities Act.
Mr Carter said that an addendum report to members, responding to concerns from Dransfield Properties Ltd about access restrictions to the town centre from the south-west corner of the site, showed ‘that we have taken it into account’.
However, Coun Reid said: “Judicial reviews costs tens of thousands of pounds and it seems that the people who went to judicial review did that for very little gain.”
Earlier, the meeting heard from Malcolm Robinson, whose elderly mother lives in Chantry Mews. He expressed concerns about the proximity of the new store to homes and questioned why the store was positioned within the site closer to the residential properties, including Burnside.
The new committee’s new chairman, Coun Colin Horncastle said: “It’s often the case that the application which comes before us could be better, but we have to judge what’s in front of us.”
Coun Richard Dodd said: “This was a commercial area, this was a garage.
“It’s been derelict for a decent amount of time, but this is the commercial centre.
“Lidl has thought, we can move into this empty site and I welcome it. This will tidy it up.”