Lidl, the German supermarket chain, has dropped its planning application for what amounted to a vast steel shed to be built on a gateway site into Croydon from Surrey on the Limpsfield Road, to the south of Sanderstead.
The Lidl development was controversial because it involved the demolition of the landmark Good Companions pub and would occupy a key location in the south of the borough that is already well-served by supermarkets.
The “Goodies” is now no more than a pile of rubble, but Lidl’s initial design for a warehouse-style building on an already busy road junction that serves two nearby schools will not now be pursued.
Such has been the concern locally, with opposition to Lidl bringing together groups of parents from the schools, worried residents and traders and businesses, that a community association seems likely to be formed in the area.
But according to local councillor – and soon to be Mayor of Croydon – Yvette Hopley, Lidl’s withdrawal of its planning application is unlikely to be an end to the matter. It seems more likely to reflect the company realising that the first-draft design was not likely to get approval from Croydon Council’s planning process.
Last week, Lidl announced expansion plans for the British market, hoping to create 1,000 jobs. That was before horse meat was found in some of its beef products, however.
Lidl is understood to have paid £2 million to buy the Good Companions and the surrounding land, easily at the top end of prices expected in a depressed commercial property market.
“I am sure it won’t be too long before we receive a revised application for this site,” Hopley told Inside Croydon today.
“All residents’ concerns and points will be addressed through the usual council protocols when an application is received,” the councillor said.
Hopley said that council planning staff had taken residents’ and the council’s concerns about the proposed building to Lidl, most which centred on how “the building is out of character with the surrounding village scene”.
“Lidl made some minor changes to the frontage of the building and added some brickwork, but for the most part it was felt that this application wasn’t suitable for this landmark site. Officers determined the application within the statutory thirteen week period and felt that Lidl should come back with a more appropriate design for the site,” said the councillor.
Any new planning application will also see residents and businesses have to re-submit their objections if, indeed, they have similar reservations about the revised design.
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