Local and national planning policy direct all retail development to town and district centres. The proposed site is classified as an ‘Edge of Centre’ location, as it is within a very short distance of Shaftesbury Town Centre boundary.
As the application site is not strictly within the town centre, development plan policy required a search to identify whether there are any alternative locations within or on the edge of Shaftesbury town centre. A Retail Assessment has therefore been undertaken by specialist consultants, which has confirmed that there are no sites within or adjoining the town centre that are suitable and available to accommodate the proposed Lidl.
In addition to this, Lidl have had a requirement for a new store in Shaftesbury for many years. We have considered a number of sites and concluded that the Cattle Market presents the best option for a new Lidl store both in terms of our own requirements and in terms national and local planning policy.
We have considered and discounted the following sites:
- Former Budgens / Co-operative (Bell Street) – This site has been discounted a number of times as it does not suit our size requirements. With warehouse space provided on the second floor it also does not suit our operational needs. In addition the lack of dedicated car parking puts the location at a significant trading disadvantage as compared the major competitor within the town. This has resulted in two previous retailers not being successful at the location.
- Post Office and adjoining land (Bell Street) – The site was identified by the Joint Retail and Leisure Study (2018) as an opportunity site. The site is not suitable for Lidl on the basis of size and location, in addition it would be very difficult to service the site owing to the narrow highways surrounding the site. The building is of historic importance, Lidl would need to demolish the existing building in order to occupy the site and this would likely not be acceptable to the local authority. Furthermore the Post Office is currently occupied by Royal Mail and there has been no public indication that they wish to vacate the building.
- Persimmon Homes Site – This has been historically considered by Lidl and has previously been suggested as a suitable location for a Lidl store by a number of residents. Planning policy directs all retail development towards town or district centres, the Cattle Market site is sequentially preferable to the Persimmon site being located adjacent to Shaftesbury town centre. Lidl would not be permitted to develop a new store on a site outside of and disconnected from Shaftesbury Town Centre whilst the Cattle Market site lies vacant. In addition we truly believe that the Cattle Market site presents a better opportunity to develop a sustainable store that will support Shaftesbury town centre over the long term.
A new Lidl store on the Cattle Market site will help to draw retail expenditure back to Shaftesbury from the surrounding towns of Gillingham, Blandford Forum and Salisbury where residents are currently travelling to carry out their discount food shopping.