Lidl green light on hold as £8m supermarket plan called in by Infrastructure Minister
Plans for a £8m Lidl supermarket in Londonderry have been called in by Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon who will determine whether the development gets the green light.
Supermarket giant Lidl says it is “disappointed” an initial approval by Derry City and Strabane District Council is now being reconsidered by Stormont.
The chain was granted planning permission by councillors earlier this year for a new store at Crescent Link in the Waterside area of the city, despite being recommended for refusal by planning officials after numerous objections were raised.
The decision now goes to the Infrastructure Minister after being ‘called in’.
Critics say the decision is “the only correct option” as the supermarket is being proposed for “designated and committed housing land in the Derry Area Plan”.
“There were also available alternative sites in designated centres, which were not adequately considered,” Andy Stephens, Matrix Planning, said.
“We are in a plan-led system and the decision to grant permission by the planning committee would have created a dangerous and wide-ranging precedent for existing designations/zonings to be undermined across the entire Derry Area Plan.
“This would have rendered the plan potentially obsolete in future planning decisions at a critical juncture with the new plan some way off.
The intervention by the Department for Infrastructure has in my opinion maintained the integrity and confidence in the planning system at a time when public confidence is low.”
Lidl Northern Ireland responded: “Following full approval of our plans and overwhelming local support received for a new £8m store in the Waterside area, creating 35 new jobs, we note with disappointment that this decision is to be revisited”.
“Lidl NI remains committed to investing in Crescent Link, in the city of Derry and in the wider north west region.”
A spokesman for the Department for Infrastructure, said: “The proposal for a new Lidl store at Crescent Link, Derry has been recently called in by the Department for Infrastructure for its consideration and officials will progress the application to a decision point as soon as is possible.”
Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed a “recommendation to refuse a planning application for the erection of a supermarket at 20 Crescent Link was overturned by elected members of the planning committee in January of this year, who voted in favour of the proposal”.
“As per legislation, the application was directed to Department for Infrastructure (DfI) planning under notification procedures for them to consider and review. On September 21, DfI wrote to the council to advise in this case the minister has called this case into the department for decision. The final decision now rest with the Minister of Department for Infrastructure.”