Stand-off hits plans for new Lidl supermarket in Bath
A stand-off between budget chain Lidl and its development partner has hit its plans for a new supermarket in Bath – four years after the firm first applied for permission.
The developer working with the German retailer now says he is exploring other options for his part of the site in Lower Bristol Road.
Acornford director Ian Cawkwell has so far failed to reach agreement with Lidl over how to organise parking at the former Herman Miller factory.
He says he would still like to work with Lidl, but is keeping his options open by looking at the possibility of student housing or a nursing home there.
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Mr Cawkwell says he has heard nothing from Lidl since offering the use of land he owns between the old factory and existing student accommodation, where there is planning permission for offices, in October. Lidl owns the western half of the building, which is listed because of its innovative 60s design, while Acornford owns the eastern half and the vacant land.
Bath and North East Somerset Council is ready to sign off planning permission for the Lidl store and four warehouse-style non-food stores, having approved the principle of the development.
Mr Cawkwell said Lidl had told him in September that the deal rested on the retailer being able to use his land alongside the Waterside Court student accommodation for parking and he offered the firm a deal the following month, reiterated in December.
He said: “Regrettably, throughout this period Lidl have not responded nor made contact so I am presently unaware of their intentions with regard to this property. Until the silence of recent months, I had a very transparent and positive working relationship with Lidl, and although the retail property market remains tough, I was confident we had a workable scheme that would bring real benefit to Bath.
“Given the lack of response from Lidl, I continue to explore other options for the property, including additional purpose-built student housing or a nursing home, for which there is a good demand in Bath.”
Lidl made its first application for a store at the factory site in January 2009.
A spokeswoman said the firm was still keen to open up in Bath, adding: “We are still committed to realising a Lidl store on the site and look forward to providing additional information once the situation is further progressed. Discussions between Lidl and Mr Cawkwell have been ongoing for some time. We have nothing further to report at this present moment.”
Progress had been slowed by Mr Cawkwell’s reluctance to pay for relocating an electricity sub-station to free a strip of land in front of the factory site to allow B&NES to create a bus lane some time in future.
He said the council had now agreed to pay this cost should a bus lane along Lower Bristol Road ever be created.
Councillor Sharon Ball (Lib Dem, Westmoreland) said: “It’s important that something is done there. It’s very much wanted locally and, in fact, across the city. I’d like to see the building used. It’s not good to see it standing empty.”