Aldi responds to Aberystwyth supermarket refusal

By Dylan Davies   |   News editor   |
Thursday 17th March 2022 5:23 pm
@dylandavies1
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SUPERMARKET chain Aldi says it is ‘bitterly disappointed’ after the Welsh Government rejected its plans to build a new store in Aberystwyth.

The plans to build a new supermarket along Park Avenue on the derelict site of the former Kwik Save and Cambrian Garage, which would have created 40 new jobs in the town, were blocked by the Welsh Government earlier this week over potential flooding concerns.

Reacting to the decision, Aldi said: “Whilst we’re pleased to now have a decision on this scheme, we were bitterly disappointed with the outcome and detail contained in the Minister’s decision letter.

“We received a significant level of support locally following the project’s unanimous approval by Ceredigion County Council, and it’s a shame that this decision means a prominent brownfield site in the centre of Aberystwyth still cannot be brought back into sustainable, economic use.”

Aldi store Park Avenue
Welsh Government planners rejected Aldi’s application to build a store on Park Avenue over long-term flooding concerns (Cambrian News )

Aldi says it is reviewing the detail of the refusal and assessing its next steps, but added that the decision was ‘a negative one for the future of Aberystwyth’.

The application for a new supermarket along Park Avenue was approved by Ceredigion County Council in June 2019, but was called in by Welsh Government inspectors over potential flooding concerns, with a public inquiry initially pencilled in for March 2020.

But the Covid-19 pandemic led to a series of delays to the public inquiry, with it eventually taking place early last year.

Following the inquiry, a recommendation by Planning Inspectorate Wales was given to the Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, in March 2021, which was not made public.

Now, a year later, Ms James has finally handed down her verdict this week and has refused permission for the supermarket to go ahead.

The Minister blocked the scheme over flooding fears, despite numerous developments being granted and built in the area in recent years, and despite Aldi holding an existing permission for a scheme which includes a hotel.

Aldi has previously said it will fall-back on that permission following the latest setback to the scheme which the company said has “significant local benefit both in terms of jobs, investment and the regeneration of an eyesore site in Aberystwyth.”

Aldi Aberystwyth
An artist’s impression of the Aldi store (Aldi ) (Aldi)

The inspector Janine Townley, in her report, said she did not view the fall-back plan as “realistic” and did not take into consideration when deciding on the scheme.

She concluded that “it has not been demonstrated risk to personal safety and property cannot be adequately managed and the development would conflict with the principle of sustainable development.”

“In the overall balance I consider the matters in favour of the scheme are outweighed by a fundamental conflict with an important component of national policy, particularly given the potentially harmful effects that could arise,” she added.

In her decision, Ms James said she had taken note of the inspectors’ views.

“The decision would prevent development being undertaken on a site at risk of flooding, where it has not been demonstrated the potential consequences of a flood event could be adequately managed,” she said.

“If the application was approved, the benefits in terms of supporting the objective of responding to the climate emergency may not be secured.”

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