Store wars will come to a head as Lidl bids to build a new supermarket on the site of the former Spotted Cow pub in Salendine Nook.

The discount retailer was refused permission by Kirklees Council in December 2019 and its latest plans for the New Hey Road site go before the council’s Strategic Planning Committee on Thursday (March 2).

The previous plans were rejected as the land is allocated for housing and there were also concerns about the impact on the nearby Salendine Nook shopping centre and the negative visual impact on the area.

Since then a new Aldi store has opened around half-a-mile away and the German-based group has objected to Lidl’s plans along with the Salendine Shopping Centre which has a Sainsbury’s and other small independent retailers.

There has been much support for Lidl’s plans with local people saying they want to see more competition for shoppers and cheaper prices. Many didn’t want to see more homes being built – the site could accommodate around 32 houses – saying local facilities are stretched already.

Almost 400 people have made their views known to the council with 367 in favour of the new store and 21 against. Lidl carried out a public consultation in 2021 where 8,000 freepost response forms were sent out. Some 461 responses were received with 92% in favour.

The recently-opened ALDI store in New Hey Road

The planning application is due to be decided at the planning committee and officers are recommending approval. It must be decided by councillors as the land is allocated for housing in the Local Plan.

The officer’s report says an assessment by Lidl shows that housing on the site wouldn’t be financially viable for a developer and also that an independent consultant reports that the Salendine Shopping Centre “would continue to trade strongly” if a Lidl was opened.

In conclusion the planning officer’s report says: “The loss of the housing land is regrettable, however sufficient justification to warrant a departure from the plan has been provided through vigorous independent examination of the site’s viability.

“In respect of financial viability, the conclusion of the independent appraisal is that the site is not able to deliver a residential scheme that would enable a sufficient level of return (15% profit margin).”

The report says a large food store in a predominantly residential area would be “somewhat at odds with its prevailing character” however that wasn’t enough to refuse the application.

Aldi only opened its new store in New Hey Road at the start of February and a spokesman said: “We are concerned that approval of a new discount food retailer around 1km from our site threatens both Salendine Shopping Centre and our own store.

“Lidl is seeking planning permission for a site that is allocated for housing in Kirklees Local Plan and this allocation remains unchanged. Aldi disagrees with the findings of Lidl’s viability assessment, and we strongly believe that housing is viable at this location.

“We are aware that when the council last considered Lidl’s proposals for the site, a petition with over 2,500 signatures was issued to committee members urging them to refuse the application.

“This petition cited concerns about the impact that the proposed store would have on the local shopping centre, and the risk this would pose to the future of essential services in the area such as the doctors, dentists, chemist and optician all of which currently operate out of the Salendine Shopping Centre.

“Aldi believes that the previous reasons for refusal remain significant and is hopeful that Kirklees Council will carefully consider the concerns raised when taking a decision on Lidl’s revised scheme on Thursday March 2.”