Decision taken on Aberystwyth Aldi bid
LONG DELAYED plans to build a new supermarket in Aberystwyth have been sensationally blocked by the Welsh Government, almost three years after the Ceredigion Council approved the project.
German supermarket chain Aldi confirmed plans in September 2018 to build a store along Park Avenue on the abandoned site of the former Kwik Save supermarket and Cambrian Garage, which would create 40 new jobs in the town.
The application was submitted to local planners and was approved by Ceredigion County Council in June 2019.
The planning application was, however, called by Welsh Government inspectors due to potential flooding issues, with a public inquiry originally scheduled for March 2020.
But the Covid-19 pandemic led to a series of delays in the public inquiry, which finally took place early last year.
Following the investigation, a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate for Wales was given to the Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, in March 2021, which has not been made public .
Now, a year later, Ms James finally gave her verdict and refused the supermarket permission to go ahead.
The minister blocked the project over fears of flooding, despite many developments being granted and built in the area in recent years, and despite Aldi holding existing permission for a project which includes a hotel.
Aldi has previously said it will fall back on the clearance following the latest setback in the scheme which the company says has “significant local benefit both in terms of jobs, investment and the regeneration of a appalling site in Aberystwyth”.
Inspector Janine Townley, in her report, said she did not consider the fallback plan to be “realistic” and did not take it into account when deciding on the plan.
She concluded that “it has not been demonstrated that the risks to personal safety and property cannot be adequately managed and that the development would be contrary to the principle of sustainable development”.
“In the overall balance, I see issues in favor of the regime being balanced by a fundamental conflict with a significant component of national politics, particularly given the potentially adverse effects that could arise,” she added. .
In her decision, Ms James said she had taken note of the inspectors’ views.
“The decision would prevent development from being undertaken on a site at risk of flooding, where it has not been demonstrated that the potential consequences of flooding could be adequately managed,” she said.
“If the application were approved, the benefits in terms of supporting the objective of responding to the climate emergency may not be guaranteed.”