Open letter to Aldi – don’t give Rothwell more than it bargained for

Here is an open letter I sent to Aldi about how local residents feel misled about its plans for late opening, I would rather see Aldi walk away than have children and older residents disturbed late at night.

 

Dear Mark

OPEN LETTER REGARDING YOUR PLANNING PERMISSION FOR A NEW STORE IN ROTHWELL

I am writing to express my concern and the concern of the Rothwell community, neighbourhood forum and my fellow councillor David Nagle, who are all concerned at Aldi’s sudden change in intentions for its proposed site for a new store in Rothwell.

When the store was first proposed I consulted with my constituents and joined them in supporting your proposal as we believed it would provide additional variety to the retail offer in the town as well as much needed new jobs from one of the UK’s fastest growing retail brands.

Unfortunately it has now emerged that your consultation and the initial support was gained on the basis of false information. The initial approach to councillors and public consultation with the local community led us to believe that the new store would have opening and delivery hours of 8am to 8pm. It was on this basis that Aldi won the support of much of the community, as well as the Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum and Rothwell councillors. I feel that Aldi has misled the community of Rothwell and gained local support under false pretences, therefore we think that the consultation and all of the public comments should be nul and void.

Please therefore tell me precisely when Aldi made the decision to vary the opening hours in the planning application? I am asking that you be transparent, open and ethical by releasing all of your internal documents relating to this decision, including minutes of meetings, emails, letters and memos. As I am sure that Aldi has been truthful and honest I am sure that you will be willing to evidence this by being transparent and releasing this information.

If Aldi wants to make such drastic changes to its proposed opening hours, then I think that the public consultation needs to start again from scratch and everything which has been submitted discounted. We have expressed this in the strongest possible terms to the planning department.

A store which opens and delivers from 7am until 11pm is a very different prospect for those living around and nearby to the proposed store. We’ve made sure our roving street surgery was done on the surrounding streets and know what effects such opening hours will have from talking to local people and by looking for ourselves. Children will be trying to sleep close to where deliveries are being made up to 11pm at night, and that is totally unacceptable. There is also sheltered bungalow housing nearby and our older and more vulnerable residents should also not be disturbed at such an hour.

I have requested that when the application is decided, that it come before the plans panel for all the issues to be fully discussed before a decision can be made and not just be considered for a decision by officer delegation. I will be asking for the information I am asking for to be made available to councillors on the panel and interested members of the public and informing them if you are unwilling to be transparent about your application.

The Aldi Planning and Retail Statement accepts in item 4.10 that it is willing to accept conditions to restrict deliveries and this should be the case. Aldi’s change of request to open and deliver from 7am to 11pm conflicts with this and is against the spirit of the public consultation.

We are also pushing for a reduction in the store size because of highways concerns, and it feels that the local roads could cope better with a smaller store. This would also mean that the store could be further away from housing, creating a better relationship with neighbours.

I cannot support the planning application if the needs of local residents are ignored in this way, but am still keen that we can find a way to work together to get the new store built in the best interests of the local community.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Karen Bruce

cc Matthew Barnes, CEO, Aldi UK