Published: 00:01, 06 March 2018
The construction of a Lidl supermarket on land off the Old Thanet Way is now in doubt as council planning officers refuse to back the project.
The budget chain wants to build a new 2,124sqm store with 125 parking spaces on a site to the west of Greenhill roundabout.
Its application is due to be decided by the planning committee at a meeting tonight, but an officer's report recommends it should be rejected by councillors.
It says the land in question is "protected open space" providing a "natural green buffer" between the dual-carriageway and nearby homes.
Planning officer Chris Pragnell says there is no obvious need for the development to outweigh the "material harm" it would cause to the area.
But former West Bay councillor Vince McMahan has rubbished the value of the site to the public, branding it “wasteland”.
“It looks unsightly, isn’t used, isn’t maintained and the public has no access to it; so why on earth does it have the status of protected open space?” he said.
“There are no benefits to keeping it that way.
“Lidl would tidy the site up as it’s said it would landscape the area and plant trees.”
To build on protected land an applicant must, among other criteria, show there is a “demonstrable need” for a development in order to offset the “harm” construction would cause.
In his report, Mr Pragnell says there is no such need, citing the number of supermarkets in close proximity to the site.
“They are all easily visited either on foot or by public transport and car, and we cannot see the justification for yet another one," he writes.
Herne Bay town centre already has an Aldi and a Morrison's - both of which have objected to the Lidl plans - and Sainsbury's owns an empty store it has yet to open in Broomfield.
But Mr McMahan claims one side of the town is better served than the other.
“It’s all very well having these things based in the east of Herne Bay, but we need something in the west," he said.
“Lidl will upgrade the footpath up to the tip and this would allow people from Studd Hill and Hampton walking access to the store. “It’s an amenity this end of town needs.”
The application received a groundswell of local support, with Lidl claiming more than 84% of the 2,382 responses to its public consultation were in favour of the scheme.
Councillors will consider the application today at the Guildhall in Canterbury.
Officers' recommendations do not need to be followed, with the outcome decided by a vote.
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