Published: 14:20, 09 January 2020
| Updated: 15:38, 10 January 2020
A supermarket giant is set to open a new store close to a rival chain after councillors voted in favour of its development.
Council chiefs approved the plans on the south side of Coldharbour Road, Northfleet, at a planning committee meeting last night.
Planning officers recommended proposals for a "mix site" containing the discount food retailer and a "Trade City" space for four industrial warehouses.
The German chain will include space for 121 car parking spaces, seven of which will be for disabled users, as well as charging points for electric vehicles.
Plans also include a pedestrian footway/cycleway and toucan crossing.
It said the new unit – which would open in addition to their existing site at the Thames Way Imperial Retail Park in Gravesend – would create up to 120 new jobs.
Lidl acquisitions consultant for Kent Conor Lavery said recruitment would be sourced in the Northfleet area with the store posing no "adverse impact" on local residents.
Based on the average 21 minute shop he said the store could expect to see "around 200 people an hour" on any given Saturday.
The new food store will also be located between the Toby Carvery and rival supermarket, Morrisons.
Both matters drew concerns from councillors regarding the impact on existing traffic congestion and the adjoining A2, as well as whether the road infrastructure would be equipped to cope.
But Kent County Council's (KCC) Highways team told planning officers it had no objections provided highway improvement works were carried out, among other conditions.
Chair Cllr Lauren Sullivan (Lab) raised concerns regarding the traffic impact assessment.
"I'm already worried about the number of cars on this road," she said.
She was joined by Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox (Lab) who said he had a "real problem with traffic modelling".
The Coldharbour councillor expressed reservations at KCC's willingness to approve projects "without proper traffic considerations".
"This won't help residents in any shape or form," he added.
Concerns were also raised by Cllr Sullivan regarding the ecological impact of the site.
She sought assurances from Lidl representatives that the new site would include capacity for energy efficient solar panels on the roof, which was given.
Council Leader John Burden (Lab) has previously protested against so-called out of town food retailers, arguing "our town centre is really in trouble".
"This won't help residents in any shape or form..." Coldharbour Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox
He pointed to the sheer number of vacant shops in the High Street and queried whether another store of this kind was warranted.
Painters Ash Cllr Conrad Broadley (Con) also raised the issue of fly-tipping, adding this had been a repeat problem at the nearby Morrisions.
He argued the new foot and cyclepeths might facilitate this between the sites if responsibility was not accounted for.
Sitting members voted unanimously to approve the planning officer recommendation to grant the site.
Its not the first time it has set up shop next to a rival supermarket with the German chain also planning to build a new multi-million pound branch in Gillingham just 500 metres from Asda's existing store.
The applicant Kier Property Developments Limited said shoppers could be expected on site six months from the "first space in the ground", with a scheduled opening date for the start of next year.
More by this authorSean Delaney