Decision over plans for new Lidl and drive-thru coffee shop set for next week
A decision over plans for a new supermarket and drive-thru coffee shop in Wrexham town centre will be made next week.
Planning committee members have been asked to back the proposals to demolish the former police tower and redevelop the site as a Lidl.
In 2018 the discount retailer announced that contracts had been exchanged with North Wales Police to build a supermarket and drive-thru coffee shop on the site of the now vacant police station on Bodhyfryd.
At the time Lidl said the store represented a multi-million pound investment in the local area with the company proposing to build a ‘sustainable store with 1,325m² sales area’.
The application had been set for debate back in September 2019, but was deferred to allow the council’s highways department to respond to a series of objections submitted prior to the meeting by consultants acting on behalf of the neighbouring Asda.
These included unrestricted delivery timings may cause on site conflicts to the detriment of pedestrian and highway safety and the queue modelling at the proposed site access and the impact of the development upon the safe operation of the existing roundabout and the neighbouring roundabouts.
Asda also called for trip generations to be reassessed against locations which are more representative of the location of the proposed development.
In a report due before councillors it is noted that the applicant “Sought to address those concerns raised by providing two further responses to the objection raised and to reassure the local highway authority.”
It adds that “this has taken the form of a rebuttal by the applicant’s own transport consultants to the concerns raised.”
The document continues onto state that: ” In terms of the concerns raised by Asda’s representation concerning validation of queue lengths and therefore the suitability of the model, these are based upon the comparison of maximum queue lengths against averages over a modelled period.
“The revised information provided by the applicant provides a comparison of observed and modelled queue lengths.
“Whilst Asda’s own consultants have raised specific concerns about elements of the TA, these have not been specifically evidenced in relation to the conclusions drawn by the applicant in relation to this site specific proposal.
“The applicant has provided a suitable rebuttal to the concerns raised which have been given due consideration and accepted by the council’s own engineers.”
Concerns over the new development creating additional traffic pressures were initially raised by local councillors and residents – particularly at the Asda Roundabout and at Alexandra school at peak times.
Other issues raised include whether an additional drive-thru coffee shop and supermarket within the town was actually needed.
However in his report the council’s chief planning officer, Lawrence Isted notes that he is “not convinced that the traffic generated by the proposed development would have a detrimental impact upon the existing access to the school.”
The council’s highways department has also raised no objection to the proposals.
Addressing the need for another supermarket in the town, Mr Isted states that alternatives spaces in the town are not appropriate – with reference made to trading data which is five years old.
In his report, Mr Isted continues onto say: “It is also accepted that there is a need for additional comparison retail floor space.
“The applicant has applied Lidl’s (the proposed end user) average sales figures in relation to the proposed floor area. It results in figures which can be accommodated within the need identified by the Council’s assessment.
“The applicant has also noted that their assessment has also noted several stores within the town centre are over trading by approximately £75m in 2014. Even with retail offers that have been consented since 2014, I am satisfied that there are likely to be stores, especially within the town centre that are overtrading.
“With the acceptance that existing stores are overtrading, the provision of a food store in this location is likely provide additional choice for potential customers.”
He concludes: “I am satisfied that the reuse of this previously developed site represents a sustainable use of land which would accord with national and local planning policy.
“The retail use has been adequately demonstrated and the additional café drive thru could satisfactorily be achieved.
“Cumulatively, the proposal would represent a positive reuse of land in the town centre which would result significant economic benefits. For these reasons I recommend accordingly.”
The application will be considered for approval by planning committee members on Monday 2nd March at 4pm. The meeting will also be webcast on the Wrexham Council website.
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