LIDL has won its appeal against Hart's refusal to allow it to operate a new store on the former Brian Gubby site in London Road, Blackwater. Government inspector Christopher Craig gave the go-ahead following a recent public inquiry.
The development will not be able to start until detailed planning consent has been given and a landscaping scheme has been agreed. The existing forecourt canopy will have to be removed and no retail sales will be allowed from any open area of the site. Lidl will also have to get approval for a two hour maximum parking scheme for other town centre users.
A second appeal against an enforcement notice was dismissed as Mr Craig ruled that when Lidl opened a non-food store just before Christmas 2000 it had needed planning permission. The notice is now obsolete.
In his report the inspector said the front part of the site had been identified in the replacement Local Plan as a town centre redevelopment site so the council's reason for refusal could not be sustained. He said he sympathised with Hart's aspirations to improve Blackwater town centre but the buildings were currently vacant and unused and LIDL would bring additional life and trade to the centre. It would not preclude a more comprehensive development of the site in the future.