Decision made on Aberystwyth Aldi application

By Chris Betteley   |   Reporter   |
Wednesday 16th March 2022 11:54 am
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Aldi Aberystwyth
Climate Change Minister Julie James (inset) and an artist’s impression of what the store would have looked like (Aldi/Welsh Government )

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LONG-DELAYED plans to build a new supermarket in Aberystwyth have been sensationally blocked by the Welsh Government, nearly three years after the scheme was approved by Ceredigion Council.

German supermarket chain Aldi confirmed in September 2018 its intention to build a store along Park Avenue on the derelict site of the former Kwik Save supermarket and Cambrian Garage, which would create 40 new jobs in the town.

The application was submitted to local planners and was approved by Ceredigion County Council in June 2019.

The planning application was however 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 been made public.

Now, a year later, Ms James has finally handed down her verdict 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.”

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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