Budget supermarket chain Aldi is appealing the council’s decision to reject its plans to build a new store on the former Dairy Crest site in Epsom.
The plans, for a new store and six flats on the site between Alexandra Road and Church Road, Epsom, were unanimously turned down in April, following public outcry.
More than 200 residents lodged objections against the proposal and more than 50 residents holding placards reading “Say ‘No’ to Aldi”, “Not Here Aldi, Down There”, or just “No”, turned out to a roadside protest against the store in January.
At the planning meeting on April 7 councillors denounced the effect an influx of shoppers would have on the local road network, the need for a seventh supermarket in the area and the effect it would have on an adjacent conservation area in Mill Road.
After the planning committee unanimously rejected the application, Councillor George Wood said: “In all my years on the planning committee I fail to recall a time when the planning officers have so definitively recommended refusal.”
Julie Morris, a former borough councillor, is a resident of nearby Mill Road and leader of the ‘Stop Aldi’ campaign.
She said: “The objections that were quite clearly and vociferously made before still stand.
“I just can’t see the point of appealing when the local community is so against a supermarket on this site. It’s not Aldi the community is opposed to – it’s the location. It’s in a residential area on a difficult junction where the traffic associated with the supermarket is going to be a logjam.”
Between November 1, 2009 and October 31, 2014 there were 24 recorded accidents at junctions in the immediate vicinity – two of which were serious.
A council spokesman said: “Aldi have now formally submitted an appeal. Under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 there is a right for the original applicant to make an appeal to the Secretary of State.
“The Planning Inspectorate will appoint an inspector to review the decision taken by the Council. The inspector will consider the case on its merits.
“They may overturn or modify our decision and will issue a report giving reasons.
“In the decision letter the inspector will usually describe the proposal and identify the important planning issues, examine the main arguments for or against the proposal and explain the reasoning behind the decision.”
An Aldi spokesperson confirmed: “Aldi was disappointed that the planning application for an Epsom store was refused earlier this year, and we know many local people were too.
“After considering the options and taking legal advice, we have decided to appeal the decision as we remain confident that the town centre, would benefit from one, if not two, new food stores.
“Aldi’s proposed site has an accessible edge of town centre location and good links to the town centre. Building a store and new homes on the site would bring the derelict site, back to life and improve local food choice to encourage more people to shop closer to home. The proposals will also create 40 to 50 new local job opportunities”.