Aldi gets go-ahead for retail park as ‘it won’t have significant adverse affect on Leighton Buzzard town centre’

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Permission has been secured for Aldi to take over Wickes’ position as an anchor tenant at Leighton Buzzard’s Grovebury Retail Park.

Central Beds Council has backed a bid by retail park developer Claymore Phoenix to allow the discount food retailer to operate from the Grovebury Road site.

Aldi, which intends to keep open its shop in Vimy Road, can now move forward with plans for a 1,858sq metre foodstore as Wickes – which has stores nearby in Bletchley and Dunstable and had originally signed up for Grovebury Road – has agreed to step aside.

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Aldi has got the green light from Central Beds CouncilAldi has got the green light from Central Beds Council
Aldi has got the green light from Central Beds Council

The retail park gained planning permission in November 2013 with a condition that the presence of “convenience food retail” in the warehouses was forbidden.

However, last year, with M&S keen to put a Foodhall on the site, Central Beds Council agreed to amend the Section 106 agreement to allow its presence and the store opened on Wednesday.

It has now agreed to a similar concession for Aldi.

The council’s highways department had initially raised traffic concerns, given a supermarket would generate more vehicles than a non-food store, but has since withdrawn any opposition having seen survey material from comparable retail sites.

Grovebury Road Retail ParkGrovebury Road Retail Park
Grovebury Road Retail Park

The applicant has stated that Land South of High Street and the Bridge Meadow site had been investigated for suitability, but were not available for development, adding in any case: “They would not be suitable or viable for the scale and nature of development proposed.”

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They say: “Having regard to the specific nature of the proposed development, the good retail health of Leighton Buzzard town centre, significant overtrading of existing convenience outlets and the capacity for additional convenience, Aldi supermarket will not have a significant adverse retail impact.”

CBC has considered the cumulative retail impact on the town centre of having M&S and Aldi operating from the site, and has been told by the applicant: “That even taking account of both developments, the town centre stores will continue to trade above benchmark turnover at 2021.

“As such, it is unlikely that any stores will close as a result of the development, and it will therefore not lead to a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Leighton Buzzard town centre.”

Central Beds Council consultants have also advised: “We do not consider that the proposal would give rise to a significantly adverse impact on Leighton Buzzard town centre, in terms of planned investment or overall vitality and viability, in the context of the latest health check findings.”

The council has stated that there should be no dedicated butcher, fishmonger, pharmacy, photo, dry cleaning, optician, bakery or delicatessen counters within the new foodstore.