Discount supermarket chain Lidl has secured permission to build a new store in Salendine Nook despite last-minute opposition from rival retailers.

Lidl will be allowed to build on the site of the former Spotted Cow pub in New Hey Road even though it was allocated for housing under the Local Plan.

Rival discounter Aldi, which opened a new store just half-a-mile or so down the road at the start of February, called on Kirklees Council to reject the scheme.

The Salendine Shopping Centre, also close by, which has a Sainsbury’s and several independent shops, also opposed the new Lidl saying it would have a detrimental impact on trade.

The planning application hinged on whether the land – which has space for around 32 houses – was viable for housing. The standard measure for viability is whether the scheme could deliver a 15-20% profit margin for a developer.

Councillors at the Strategic Planning Committee – from L-R Tyler Hawkins, Carole Pattison, Andrew Pinnock and Bill Armer

At a meeting of the council’s Strategic Planning Committee Mr Inder Bhullar, of Bhullar Brothers, which owns Salendine Shopping Centre, urged councillors to refuse permission.

He warned of the impact on the centre and said sales at Sainsbury’s had already fallen by 12% since Aldi opened.

He said the key issue was viability of the site for housing and he’d had reports from two Huddersfield estate agents who said there would be no shortage of interest from developers.

Mr Bhullar’s consultants said housing was viable but experts for Lidl produced reports saying it wasn’t. Council planning officers carried out an appraisal and sided with Lidl’s consultants, recommending that councillors approve the scheme.

Councillors voted 5-1 in favour with Clr Carole Pattison (Lab, Greenhead) saying while there might have been a drop off in trade at Sainsbury’s it was too early to say what the long-term impact would be. “I don’t think Aldi or Sainsbury’s will suffer,” she added.

Clr Pattison said she didn’t think the site was “particularly viable” for housing and had sympathy for local residents who say that the Lindley area had borne the brunt of house building in recent years with “very little infrastructure or facilities provided.”

The new Aldi store in New Hey Road

The meeting was told that the housing allocation was added to the Local Plan by a Government inspector to help meet the total of 31,000 new homes said to be needed across Kirklees. However, the current Local Plan is to be subject to a review and that figure may be reduced.

Clr Bill Armer (Con, Kirkburton) said the potential loss of 32 new homes from a total of 31,000 made “little difference either way.”

Clr Armer said he’d listened to Mr Bhullar and the arguments from Aldi but added: “I still think there’s a public benefit to have retail competition.”

The council refused permission for Lidl back in December 2019 because of the housing allocation, the potential impact on other shopping centres and the detrimental visual impact on the area.

The one councillor to vote against – Clr Andrew Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) – said the previous reasons were still valid and added: “We need all the housing allocations we can get.”