Yesterday I spoke at the planning panel to argue on behalf of residents and the Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum about a planning application from Aldi to build a new supermarket in Rothwell on the site of Ashleigh Signs. Aldi had applied for permission for the new supermarket to close at 10:00pm which I and local residents felt was far too late. I was angry that in the original paper Leeds City Council planning officers had caved into Aldi and agreed to accept the late opening and recommended the application for approval.
Aldi thought it could treat local people with contempt and despite having agreed to me and Cllr David Nagle an earlier time and in an email to Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum that it would accept 9:00pm as a closing time it still applied for 10:00pm.
Right up until yesterday morning before the meeting I was continuing to lobby planning officers and eventually got them to concede that Aldi had privately agreed to 9:00pm. At the meeting I spoke up for local people and argued in favour of the store, but against late night opening and deliveries. I argued that it was disgraceful that Aldi was still lobbying to to open later, despite privately having agreed to an earlier time.
After a long debate by councillors on the planning panel they eventually agreed with me and David Nagle and granted planning permission for the new supermarket, but with restrictions to make it close at 9:00pm. This was a sensible compromise from the 8:00pm that I wanted and the 10:00pm that Aldi wanted. It was important to have this limit as the Aldi site is surrounded by housing including sheltered bungalows and family housing with small children.
I’m delighted that planning permission has been granted as overall it will bring benefits to Rothwell. The new supermarket will create new jobs and offer local people more choice and provide much needed competition to Morrisons. Many residents have told me that they would like a cheaper alternative in these tough times and that Morrisons wouldn’t have such a stranglehold on Rothwell, as it owns a large chunk of the town centre.
The planning approval also addressed some of our other concerns such as about highways and access. The busy junction at Butcher Lane will be widened by taking some of the land where the new Aldi will be built. It also included a Section 106 agreement to improve electronic public transport information and on local jobs. I want to see any new jobs first going to local people and I have asked Aldi to organise a jobs fair and for a jobs guarantee for people who live in Rothwell, Carlton, Oulton and Woodlesford, Aldi was agreeable to this during talks and we will be calling on it to make sure this actually happens.