Spalding St Paul’s ward councillor David Ashby is backing Lidl’s new supermarket, saying it would be the “best thing that could happen to this area since Springfields”.
Objectors include MP John Hayes, Spalding Civic Society and bosses at four small shops who fear they could be shut down because of loss of trade.
The shopkeepers’ Save Our Shops petition was backed by 1,100 people but Coun Ashby says a new supermarket on the site of the former Welland Hospital – together with 36 new homes – would tidy up the area.
“Talking to local people, most of them are for it,” said Coun Ashby. “Sixty per cent of the people want a supermarket they can walk to – and not drive to – so I am going with the majority.”
He says people in his ward can’t understand why a supermarket wasn’t included in Springfields Retail Outlet.
“Lidl is cheaper than Sainsbury’s and Morrisons and it would be on people’s doorsteps – and they (residents) can’t wait to see it.”
Mr Hayes says Spalding doesn’t need another supermarket, saying it could have a detrimental affect on nearby small traders – resulting in some being forced to close – and also have an economic impact on the town centre.
The civic society says the plan is “contrary to the principle of ‘town-centre-first’ for retail development”, and also fears a major edge of town store could threaten the “vitality and viability” of the town centre.
The bid to build a food store was submitted jointly by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Lidl in mid-September but the council is yet to decide when it will go to committee for a decision. The NHS has made a separate application for the homes.
Lidl says it is providing Spalding customers with a second store to meet demand, with more customers shopping at Lidl than ever before, and the step will create up to 40 new jobs.
A spokesman said: “It is our strong belief that a new store will be of huge benefit to the community and we are grateful for the incredible amount of support that we have received for our plans so far.”