Aldi store rejected a second time over road accident 'time bomb' fears

Aldi store was rejected by Planning Council.
-Credit: (Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Plans for an Aldi store have been rejected again over fears the increased traffic would have a severe impact on road safety. A proposal to create the budget supermarket on the vacant former Dairy Crest site in Alexandra Road was refused a second time at an Epsom and Ewell council meeting on July 10.

The application was first thrown out in 2015 following concerns about the site’s location, level of car parking and traffic, and the effect on the character of the neighbourhood. The new application for the £5m development in Epsom includes car parking, some landscaping but plans for residential units have been scrapped.

Councillor Jan Mason (Residents’ Association/Ruxley Ward) said the supermarket giant should “do far better” on the design of the building if it “wants to come to a lovely area such as Epsom”.

Read more: Drivers told to avoid A24 after new road closure to clean up oil spill near M25

Read more: Surrey town where Aldi wants to open store as 27 new locations targeted

Although Aldi said it had “refined” its proposals, carefully designing an “attractive, bespoke Aldi food store” which would “respect the surrounding area”, councillors were still concerned about its location.

Despite Surrey Highways advising the development "would be unlikely to result in a severe impact" on local traffic, councillors remained sceptical. Speaking before the debate, Ward Councillor Julie Morris (Lib Dem/College Ward) said there would be a “huge” impact on neighbours who already feel the surrounding residential roads are a “rat run”.

“The one thing you can't put in a spreadsheet is common sense,” Cllr Chris Watson (Residents Association/ Ewell Court Road) said. He argued that regardless of “clever” data from the county council, “common sense” says it is a busy junction which could result in queuing traffic.

Agreeing with him, other councillors said the “already challenging junction” is “fraught with danger”. It was agreed it was in the interests of residents, motorists, pedestrians and children crossing to go to school that councillors had to reject the application.

However, Cllr Clive Woodridge (Residents’ Association/ Ewell Village Ward) argued it was not viable to refuse the application on traffic and road concerns. He said Surrey Highway experts have judged the development acceptable and this could not be easily defended at appeal.

But Cllr Mason called the development a ticking “time bomb”, which could lead to a fatal collision if plans goes ahead.

Speaking to the committee, Leah, who lives in the area, said: “The council has had feedback multiple times that local residents don't want a food store here.” She cited Aldi’s own research from its application that 58-61% of local residents objected to the proposal.

Around 91 letters were sent to the council opposing the scheme, arguing it was an ‘unacceptable location’ for a food store at a busy junction. Concerns were raised that traffic would be exacerbated, a pedestrian crossing would be dangerous and the brownfield site should be saved for affordable housing.

Get more news from SurreyLive straight to your inbox for free here.