Aldi developer partner says ‘it has not been possible’ to work with council as plans withdrawn
PUBLISHED: 19:00 13 November 2020
Aldi has withdrawn plans for a multi-million pound development which would have created 400 jobs - after fears its out-of-town location would have an “adverse effect” on employment overall.
Aldi and Jaynic submitted plans to West Suffolk Council in May this year for a supermarket, innovation centre for businesses, and retail and commercial kiosks at Suffolk Park, on the edge of the Moreton Hall estate in Bury St Edmunds.
The applicants had said the development would generate 400 jobs and enable further development across the Suffolk Park Enterprise Zone.
But they have withdrawn the plans, with Jaynic saying it had “not been possible” to work with the council in this instance.
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A West Suffolk Council spokesperson said: “While the planning application went against both national and local planning policies, and the applicants were informed of this back in September, it was their decision to withdraw the application prior to consideration by members at the development control committee.”
A planning policy statement recommended the proposal be refused “for failing to accord with both national and local policies”, and it was met with objections from New Anglian Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Ourburystedmunds Business Improvement District (BID) group, the Economic Development service and other statutory consultees including the Highway Authority.
The planning policy statement said the scheme was expected to have “an adverse effect on employment generation”.
It added: “It is important the site is retained for the purpose/use it was originally designated to ensure the future employment needs are met over the longer term and main town centre uses are directed to the town centres first as national and local policy requires.”
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Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bury BID, which represents businesses in the town centre, said as the town centre faced unprecedented challenges caused by coronavirus “now is not the time to be allowing an out-of-town retail development!”
He said: “The proximity of this location to the residents of Moreton Hall (key customers of our members) means it will be a huge threat to town centre businesses, particularly with permission sought for retail units as well as the supermarket.”
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The proposed food store would have been Aldi’s second in the town and was aimed at complementing its outlet in Dettingen Way on the west side.
The innovation centre was aimed at providing flexible office space for local businesses and start-ups.
The retail and commercial kiosks would have included coffee shops, sandwich bars, and secretarial and administrative services.
Ben Oughton, development director at Jaynic, said: “From the outset, we have always made clear our desire to try and work together with West Suffolk Council planning officers to help facilitate ongoing and continued investment by Aldi and Jaynic in Bury St Edmunds.
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“Aldi has a clear need for another store in the east part of the town and there is overwhelming support from the public and local businesses for the complementary amenities at Suffolk Park. However this is not a view shared by the council.
“Since working with the council remains our preferred approach and, although this has not been possible in this instance, we would like it to form the basis of any future discussions, and it is with this objective that has ultimately influenced our decision to withdraw the application.
“We would like to thank the council planning officers for their time and input spent on the application and look forward to future discussions.”
Jaynic stressed Covid-19 had “nothing to do” with the decision to withdraw the application.
“Jaynic have said they will not be resubmitting with Aldi in tow,” the spokesman added.
Moreton Hall councillor Peter Thompson, who is also Mayor of Bury St Edmunds, said it was a “real shame we couldn’t have found some sort of compromise”.
He said an Aldi on the eastern side of Bury St Edmunds would have eased traffic across the town.
Aldi was also approached for comment.
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