Woolbrook would be 'back to square one' if supermarket moves
PUBLISHED: 12:55 22 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:24 23 October 2019
A thriving area of the town could go 'back to square one' if a supermarket giant relocates its Sidmouth store, a councillor has said.
Councillor Stuart Hughes has warned of the potential knock-on effects of moving the town's Lidl store out of Woolbrook because he says there is nowhere else to move to except Alexandria Industrial Estate or Sidford Business Park.
In its 2019 property requirement brochure, Lidl has said it would like to acquire sites for new stores in Axminster, Cranbrook, Seaton and the centre of Exmouth and relocate its Sidmouth store.
The company said it is looking for landowners to offer 'prominent locations' with easy access for pedestrians and traffic for unit sizes between 14,000 and 26,500 square feet.
Cllr Hughes said after reading the proposal it set 'alarm bells ringing'.
He said: "I'm really concerned over a statement from Lidl who say that they are looking to relocate their Sidmouth store based in the Woolbrook centre.
"They want to provide new stores around places in Devon including a relocation of the Sidmouth store. That to me starts some alarm bells ringing as there are only two places they could go.
"The other reason is since Lidl has been in the old bus depot it has been great for Woolbrook centre. It's become a thriving little centre and take it out and it would be back to square one. This will have a knock-on effect for the remaining businesses in Woolbrook which has flourished since Lidl opened its doors."
He argued Alexandria Industrial Estate would exacerbate current traffic problems with no traffic calming solutions possible along Alexandria Road or Winslade Road - and the same for roads near the Sidford site.
Cllr Hughes said: "I would have thought you would have to see the business from there (Alexandria) relocate out to Sidford before an application to put a supermarket on Alexandria Industrial Estate could happen.
"Although the business park (at Sidford) was meant to be for new employment that's what I understood, not relocating what we have already got. What is there should remain there."
Lidl said it has ongoing national expansion plans across the UK.
A Lidl spokesman said: "This is for both new stores where there is demand for a Lidl, and existing stores that we would like to remodel for customers, which may require a relocation to do so. We would encourage any landowners or agents who may be aware of suitable sites, to get in touch with our property teams to discuss."