Plans for a new Lidl on the edge of Wetherby rejected by Leeds City Council

A council planning committee has voted unanimously against a scheme to build a supermarket on the site of the Mercure Hotel, off the A58 in Wetherby.
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The proposals included a care home and eight “senior living” homes for elderly people on the same site, while the hotel would have been demolished.

The scheme had divided opinion in Wetherby, with supporters claiming a Lidl would boost supermarket competition and provide welcome jobs to the area.

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Others, however, raised concerns about its location and the impact on smaller independent retailers in the town.

The Mercure Hotel, off the A58 in WetherbyThe Mercure Hotel, off the A58 in Wetherby
The Mercure Hotel, off the A58 in Wetherby

Elected members agreed with a recommendation from planning officers to reject the application, which had been jointly submitted by Lidl and Springfield Health Care.

No-one spoke on behalf of the application at Thursday’s meeting (October 19), as would normally be the case.

Councillors were told that two supporters of the scheme had originally been registered to argue in its favour, but that they pulled out in advance of the meeting.

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It meant that, in the interests of balance, critics of the scheme were also unable to address the meeting.

Labour councillor Jools Heselwood was one of several panel members who said she supported the principle of housing on the site, but could not back the supermaket.

She told the meeting: “The housing element I absolutely agree with, because it does free up houses down the chain and we need those houses for people who are retiring, but don’t want to live in a care home.

“It’s a difficult one, but it’s a dual proposition in front of us. Unfortunately we’ve got to look at it as a whole.”

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Speaking after the meeting, Conservative councillor for Wetherby, Alan Lamb, said there remained an appetite for Lidl to come to the town, but was critical of the way the supermarket had pursued the application.

He said: “I think the plans panel have made the right decision.

“It’s bittersweet because I fully understand there will be a lot of disappointment from people who wanted to see a Lidl.

“We did offer to work with Lidl to help them find an alternative site at a more suitable location. We were committed to working with them to try to progress things.

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“But sadly they were more interested with running a PR campaign than making efforts to engage with people.”

Lidl has been contacted for comment.

The supermarket told the BBC earlier last week that it was “disappointed” planning officers had recommended the scheme be refused, insisting it had “widespread support” from the community.