Plans for new Lidl store in Chelmsford rejected over “green lung” concerns

Plans for a large Lidl supermarket in Chelmsford have been rejected by the city council because of the impact it would have on the open space.

The land – situated off Chelmer Village Way and adjacent to the Buttercup Montessori Nursery and heritage properties, including a Neolithic and Bronze Age enclosure – is owned by Essex County Council. The authority had been planning to sell the land to Lidl.

The plans are conditional on the supermarket chain achieving planning approval and permission to sell alcohol for a store of not less than 1,410 sq metres and 140 parking spaces.

Lidl has one other supermarket in Chelmsford – off Princes Road in Moulsham.

The plans come around three years after the sale of the same piece of land to a care home developer fell through. This was also due to concerns around the impact it would have on open space and the effect that this would have on the character and appearance of the area.

Landspring Limited had appealed Chelmsford City Council’s decision to turn down a development for a 70-bed care home in Springfield Lyons – a site that also boasts an Anglo Saxon grave.

But Chelmsford City Council repeated some of those concerns – the development site and adjacent land form a Great Crested Newt habitat. Within the Buttercup Montessori site is a pond known to contain newts together with the collection of ponds in Bronze Age settlement to the north‐east.

The city council also reiterated the importance of the site as a “green lung” – important both in terms of its use as public open space but also for its sense of openness within fairly dense urban surroundings.

Councillor Jennie Lardge was among the members of the planning committee that voted unanimously on the evening of Tuesday, May 4 to reject the plans.

Cllr Lardge said: “The loss of the open space is an insurmountable problem with the application and that it is important protect that open space.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter