Published: 13:07, 30 September 2020
| Updated: 13:21, 30 September 2020
Supermarket giant Asda has been branded "hypocritical" over its objection to rivals Lidl building a new store opposite.
Councillors have once again granted planning permission for the German chain to open its first store in Gillingham following a series of legal challenges and objections by Asda .
The company said Lidl's plans to open a 1,669sq m store off Medway Road – just yards from its much larger superstore at Chatham Waters – would cause major issue harm and damage retail offers Gillingham town centre.
It also submitted a judicial review challenge claiming the planning process had not been followed properly but this was also denied.
Members of Medway Council's planning committee have once again overruled protests by Asda – which had earlier been echoed by Tesco – by agreeing to allow planning permission for a third time.
Cllr Martin Potter (Con) said: "As before I support the development of this site. I'm quite frankly astonished and disappointed at the lengths Asda have gone to stop this."
The meeting was told submissions made by Asda during the planning process suggested building a store on the derelict site would harm "international and national ecological designation, local wildlife sites and a regionally important geological site" in the Great Lines park about a mile away.
The arguments are being considered by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government about whether a full environmental screening of the site and impact assessment is required.
But the council says although they are waiting for the government's ruling, it believes the development is classed as urban and does not fall within the boundaries to require the assessment.
Cllr Potter added: "I find it very hypocritical of them to throw in all these reasons to prevent this application because I don't remember them raising it when they put their store in over the way.
"As for the impact to Gillingham town centre, I think it's clear the more severe impact was from their superstore opening."
Ward councillor for Strood South Cllr Chris Buckwell also supported the application, saying: "Essentially, however they put forward their points, this is an economic objection and they've gone to extraordinary lengths.
"The Asda store is not in Gillingham, it's in Chatham despite what they called it and gave as the address.
"We've heard this before and the correct and just decision to serve custom in this part of north Gillingham is to allow this to go through with the conditions."
One of the conditions limits the percentage of sales of directly comparable goods and individual products which can be stocked.
Cllr Richard Thorne (Con) also backed the plans for redeveloping "an eyesore" currently there. He added: "It's a need within the area. Unfortunately the development has been made closer to the town centre but it will be regenerating the area."
The plans, which were submitted as a duplicate application while the judicial review process was taking place, were passed unanimously.
Lidl announced it was planning to open in Gillingham back in March 2019 .