The supermarket chain ALDI fears its application for a new store in Gillingham is set to be turned down after planning officials decided to rule on it themselves rather than refer it to councillors.
The company says it is ‘frustrated’ to hear that officers at North Dorset District Council ‘intend to refuse ALDI’s planning application behind closed doors’, even though it says a local councillor had wanted fellow members to consider the case.
In a statement to Gillingham News, the company, which wants to build a 1,254 sq m store at Park Farm on Shaftesbury Road, said: ‘It is very unusual for a major application to be dealt with in this way. Council constitutions usually state that when local councillors request an application goes to committee, this has to happen. Many local people have expressed a view on ALDI’s plans and told us, or written directly to the council, to say that they support the plans. South Gillingham is lacking in amenities and the opening of an ALDI would make life easier for them, so there will be great disappointment if the planning application is refused without a fair hearing.’
When asked if the chain would appeal a refusal by planning officers, an ALDI spokesperson replied: ‘If the application was refused, we would consider an appeal. There are no other sites in Gillingham that are available and suitable for ALDI, so the only other option would be to progress plans elsewhere in the region.’
A spokesperson for NDDC said: ‘The council’s constitution sets out the circumstances in which applications are referred to committee. In this case the application can be determined under the powers delegated to the Head of Planning.’
Gillingham Town Council’s planning committee has already voted to recommend rejecting the application.