New Aldi for Preston as part of district retail development

A new Aldi store will form part of a district centre that has been given the go-ahead in Cottam.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 3:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 3:42 pm

Preston City Council’s planning committee has approved the scheme, on the former brickworks site off Tom Benson Way, which will also include two-storey commercial space that could be used for other retail outlets, hospitality or community services.

Eighty-nine homes are also set to be built as part of the development, which lies to the north of an estate of more than 100 properties already under construction.

Aldi wants to move “swiftly...to confirm a timeline [for] store opening”, Peter Tooher, the agent for the application, told committee members before they made their decision.

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Housing development is already under way on another part of the former Cottam Brickworks site. A new Aldi and district retail centre will be built to the north of it.

He added: “The proposals will deliver top-quality grocery and other services in the heart of a growing community, reducing the need to travel further afield by car.

“Approval will release an estimated £40m investment, with the creation of around 50 jobs within the short term and, potentially, over 100 jobs in total in the future.

“The project will deliver new pedestrian and cycle links along Tom Benson Way and Cottam Way, connecting local residents to services and, importantly, each other,” said Mr. Tooher, noting that more than £1m in community infrastructure levy payments will also be generated by the development.

However, committee member Jennifer Mein raised concern about the lack of health facilities in any of the cluster of neighbourhood centres that have been either built or approved to the north of the city in recent years, including at nearby Fulwood Central.

Roundabout on Tom Benson Way, close to the main access point to the planned new district centre (image: Google)

“Whose responsibility is it to ensure that, with all of this development, there is sufficient access to local health services?

“It seems to be all retail in these district centres...and no other community benefits,” Cllr Mein said, questioning whether the council could make health provision a condition of planning permission.

Although the outline part of the application for the commercial units suggests a range of “flexible” uses - including categories that would allow for a health centre - planning officer Phil Cousins told the meeting that it was not possible for the council to stipulate the inclusion of any one of them. However, the issue will be explored further when the details of that part of the development come back before the committee.

Objections were also lodged about potential traffic congestion and highway safety issues, from both Ingol and Tanterton Neighbourhood and Lea and Cottam Parish councils, along with Ingol and Cottam ward councillor on the city authority, Mark Jewell.

One councillor expressed concern over the potential impact of increased traffic on Cottam Avenue (image: Google)

In a statement read to the committee on his behalf, Cllr Jewell said that he was “deeply concerned” over the prospect of a rat-run being created between Tom Benson Way and Cottam Avenue.

He called for a bus gate to be resurrected from previous plans for the Cottam Avenue side of the development, which would have allowed access via that route only for public transport and emergency vehicles - and he also branded speed humps planned for the road “inadequate”.

“For those drivers wishing to avoid [them], they only need to access the site from Tag Lane, by driving down Redcar Avenue, onto Whitby Avenue and Cottam Avenue at the entrance to the site. The proposal for speed humps on the Barry Avenue side seem entirely unnecessary,” Cllr Jewell added.

However, Lancashire County Council highways officers concluded that the traffic calming measures and “the design of the link road through the site to slow traffic speeds and discourage through traffic” - including raising the height of a portion of the road - made the proposals acceptable.

Access to the adjoining household waste recycling centre, currently taken directly from Tom Benson Way, will be redesigned, via a priority junction from within the new access road to the neighbourhood development.

The applicant will pay £206,000 for associated works within the recycling centre itself to ensure that there is sufficient queuing capacity to prevent traffic tailing back onto Tom Benson Way. A toucan crossing will also be installed on the route, funded by developer contributions.

The application was approved unanimously, including a condition that the the commercial units will not begin trading until the new highway connection to Tom Benson Way has been completed.