Budget supermarket Aldi has been given the go-ahead to open a new store on the outskirts of Skipton.
Despite concerns that the store – on part of the Skipton Ford site off Keighley Road – could damage Bradley Village Store, Craven Planning Committee voted unanimously to approve the plans.
The superstore, which is less than half the size of Tesco or Morrisons, will be built next to McDonalds on land currently used to store cars. There will be parking for 85 vehicles.
At Monday’s meeting, councillors heard strong opposition from Bradley Parish Council, ward councillor Pat Fairbank and the owner of the village shop Sandra Waite. Mrs Waite said: “This is a fantastic community and the shop is an essential hub of the village. Aldi will wreck our village.”
Coun Fairbank added that older people not only shopped there, but used it as a way of getting out and talking to people – a facility they would lose if it was to close. She also feared for increased traffic congestion on the already busy Keighley Road.
Councillors were told that the scheme had ticked the right boxes as far as government planning guidelines were concerned, and that Aldi had not been able to find any “suitable” alternative sites in the town centre.
It had rejected the development at 9 High Street, the former Co-op at Westgate stores and the old Skipton Building Society building.
Mike Clarke, Aldi’s property director, reminded councillors that the company had previously won planning approval for an Aldi on the former Focus site in Broughton Road, now a B&M store, but that it had been unable to complete the land deal.
He said the new Aldi would not sell tobacco or newspapers and there was nothing to suggest it would damage the Bradley shop.
He added that jobs at Skipton Ford would be protected as money from the sale of the land would be re-invested in the business.
Skipton councillors said that the new store had strong support in the town. Coun Paul English (Lib Dem) said plenty of Skipton people travelled to Aldi in Keighley and in Colne, some going by bus. He said: “I would not be doing my job properly if I did not make it easier for them.
“It will be up to the residents of Bradley to support their shop. Most people in Skipton West certainly shop in Tesco and Morrisons and a bit of competition for them will be a good thing.”
Coun Ady Green (Cons) said the shop in Bradley was “marvellous” and he doubted it would be damaged by an Aldi at all.
After the meeting, ward councillor Mark Wheeler (Lib Dem) said: “I cannot understand the wisdom of a decision that could lead to the wiping out of a valued village shop.
“It’s not as if Skipton is short of supermarkets, but by approving this it could also draw people away from the traditional town centre. It’s yet another case of the big boys bashing the small independents out of their way to achieve national retail domination.”
The plans will see a current access onto Millennium Road for exit only, while a new access to the store will be created off Keighley Road.