Bridgwater Road, Taunton

Planning Potential secured planning permission for ALDI’s first foodstore in Taunton in March 2017 against officer recommendation.

A planning application for ALDI’s first store in the town proposed the redevelopment of light industrial and retail units on land to the south of Bridgwater Road, Taunton.

The proposals provided an opportunity to bring a vacant brownfield site back into beneficial economic use through the provision of a discount foodstore to improve the retail offer of the area and provide jobs for local people.

The retail case focused on the lack of convenience retail provision in the east of Taunton, particularly a poor discount foodstore offer, and a lack of representation by ALDI. The proposal provided an opportunity to improve the convenience retail offer, reduce the need to travel further afield for food shopping, and claw-back trade from surrounding towns.

Despite the identified benefits of the scheme and Planning Potential providing a detailed retail assessment, the independent advice obtained by the LPA from their retail consultant considered that the proposal failed the sequential test and would result in a significant adverse impact on the town centre. We were also required to address other matters including the ‘loss’ of an existing employment site, the connectivity with neighbouring uses, and parking provision.

Somerset County Council (SCC) separately raised concerns regarding highways capacity and congestion, and safety. The ALDI development team undertook detailed analysis to overcome the points raised, but SCC maintained their concerns.

Despite working hard to successfully address many of the issues, the planning officer decided to recommend the application for refusal.

Prior to submission of the planning application, Planning Potential and Communications Potential carried out a full public consultation and engaged heavily with local ward councillors. Through our careful messaging, we were able to gain a significant amount of support from members of the public and ensure ward councillors recognised the benefits of the scheme.

As a result, the officer’s recommendation was overturned at planning committee, with planning permission granted in March 2017. The store opened in late 2017.

Summary of achievements:

  • Coordinated pre-application discussions with the LPA to identify the principal issues
  • Coordinated public consultation, issuing a consultation leaflet, and meeting with local ward councillors and key stakeholders
  • Secured significant support from the local community
  • Coordinated the production and submission of the planning application, including the production of a detailed planning statement and retail impact assessment
  • Secured a positive resolution at planning committee against officer recommendation