Supermarket chain Lidl wants to meet local councillors to try and progress plans for a £5m development in an East Coast town after a “nonsensical” decision to delay talks until after elections in May.
The fast growing discount store is looking to build a supermarket, restaurant and Premier Inn on Hilderthorpe coach park, a prime site in Bridlington, owned by East Riding Council.
In an e-mail to town councillors they say the investment “is surely ... a vote winner.”
The coach park had been earmarked for a bigger store for Tesco, releasing the retailer’s existing base next door to be redeveloped as a new shopping centre. But Tesco withdrew last year, putting a major dent in the council’s £200m Bridlington Area Action Plan (AAP).
In the e-mail, Lidl said after speaking to East Riding Council head of planning Alan Menzies and head of estates John Read: “We have been advised matters cannot be progressed, until after the elections in May. We see this as nonsensical, as investment in Bridlington, development of a longtime vacant site and a significant capital receipt to the council, is surely what the electorate want to see and is a vote winner.”
Town councillor Linda Chambers said her personal view was that it was “unbelievable you would want to turn down something like this. Anybody else would be biting their hands off.” She said it again exposed the problems with the AAP and the lack of a plan B: “Although they have compulsorily purchased and demolished properties, they still don’t have the financial backing for the entire plan.
“I can’t see the AAP ever coming to fruition because Tesco is not going to move, so the huge piece of land which they were going to develop is not going to become available and the whole thing is bound to fall apart.”
However Coun Michael Charlesworth said their policy had always been for it to remain a coach park and multi-storey car park. He added: “It is all a bit of a mess. It’s not an action plan, it’s an inertia plan.”
Mr Menzies said yesterday the site had been withdrawn from sale, despite a number of expressions of interest, as they were “unable to secure a quality development that met the regeneration aspirations for the town.” They were drawing up a “delivery strategy” for sites they own and others they want to aquire and the coach park was unlikely to be considered for release until next summer. Geoff Pickering, of campaign group Justice for Brid, said the admission about putting together a delivery strategy was “astonishing.” He said: “It is a basic requirement. The council was asked for the document by the Inspector (at the public inquiry) before she could find the plan sound. Their statement confirms they have no plan at all as to how they are going to proceed.” Lidl confirmed discussions had taken place with the council.