Published: 08:04, 12 April 2018
| Updated: 09:29, 13 April 2018
Plans for a new supermarket and fast food restaurant in Chatham have been approved despite uncertainty over the future of a neighbouring Toys R Us store.
Medway Council’s planning committee postponed any decision on a new 1,430 sq m Aldi and a two-floor 447.5 sq m KFC on Horsted Retail Park last month amid doubts about what impact the toy chain’s financial problems could have on the scheme, as well as concerns about parking provision.
Applicants Royal London UK Real Estate Fund said although 177 parking spaces would be lost as a result of the project, the supermarket would still have around 20% proportionally more car parking capacity than other nearby Aldi stores.
Cllr Martin Potter (Con) said: “They have done a considerable amount of work to demonstrate how the parking is sufficient. I still have some doubts, and at Christmas time I don’t think it will cope, but I think that’s the case for most retail centres.
“To a degree, that will balance itself out in the sense that if you can’t park there, it won’t be attractive to shop there. That, in itself, will lead to consumers making their own choice around that.”
No references were made about the Toys R Us store, although planned refurbishment of the building will not be completed by the applicant until its future use has been established.
There have been suggestions the existing premises could be used as two separate units, which would not require planning permission from the local authority.
Highway improvements will have to be made as part of the scheme, including widening the retail park access to provide two exit lanes, and a system to trigger a toucan crossing when “extensive queues” are not moving.
There were 37 letters of objection submitted to Medway Council regarding the application, while 12 were sent in support.
The applicant has previously said the £6m project will create 100 jobs.
Royal London’s Senior Asset Manager, Yasin Sadiq said: "We are delighted that Councillors of the Planning Committee resolved unanimously to grant planning permission for the improvement of retail facilities at Horsted Retail Park.
"Our plans provide a fantastic opportunity to enhance the Park and deliver significant benefits to the local community.
"This decision by Members has come at a crucial time, given the imminent closure of the existing Toys R Us unit; it provides greater certainty over the future of this gateway site, securing £6 million of investment and 100 new jobs in the process.
"It will also act as a catalyst for future investment.
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who took the time to give their comments on our proposals, as this valuable feedback has helped to shape the final scheme.
"Should anyone have any questions, they can visit our website at horstedretailpark.consultationonline.co.uk or contact our freephone information line number on 0800 298 7040."
More by this authorDean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter
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