Row erupts between Worksop's Priory Centre and Lidl over out-of-town store

The manager of Worksop’s Priory Shopping Centre is urging councillors to ‘stand up’ and vote against plans for a new Lidl opposite the train station.

Steve Dacombe has branded the new 2,000 sqm store - which would be located over half-a-mile from the centre of town - ‘a grave threat to the future of Worksop’s town centre’.

The proposal has been recommended for approval by council planning officers with a number of conditions.

However an independent report commissioned by the council found the discount food giant should consider locating its new branch at a vacant unit inside the Priory.

Steve Dacombe has branded the new 2,000 sqm store ‘a grave threat to the future or Worksop’s town centre’

Nexus Planning say the development fails planning guidelines’ ‘sequential test’ - that out-of-town locations should only be considered when suitable central sites are not available.

The consultants also say ID Planning - acting on behalf of Lidl - needs to update its assessment of the impact an out-of-town store would have on Worksop town centre’s ‘vitality’ and planned investments.

They write: “We do not accept the applicant’s conclusions that the centre is in ‘reasonable health’.

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Columbia Threadneedle Investments - who own The Priory Centre - argue they already have planning consent for a similar-sized retail unit. Alan Janaszek / PhotoPro Images

“The trend based data suggests that the centre is weakening over time - notwithstanding pockets of individual success.”

Columbia Threadneedle Investments - who own The Priory Centre - argue they already have planning consent to partially-demolish the building - making way for a similar-sized retail unit.

However ID Planning - acting on behalf of Lidl - say Priory’s planned renovation would leave it with a narrower store than usual and would leave shoppers with no trolley area near the entrance.

Priory manager Steve Dacombe launched a campaign earlier this year called We Love Worksop High Street - calling for Worksop to be ‘restored to the bustling market town it once was’.

He told how a survey to identify what attracts people to Worksop’s town centre found 45 per cent of respondents would be more likely to visit the town centre if there was a food store in the Priory Shopping Centre.

Speaking about the Lidl application he said: “Councillors must send a clear message that we need more investment within the town centre - such as our own plans for a new food store.

“An out-of-town Lidl will affect our own redevelopment plans - impacting new investment and transferring trade away from our town centre.

“The application is a grave threat to the future of Worksop’s town centre - this couldn’t come at a worse time for many retailers already hurting from lockdown.”

A spokesperson for the applicant said: “The site off Carlton Road is brownfield land which has been vacant for around 30 years.

"If approved, Lidl’s planning application will bring this site back to life and deliver significant benefits to Worksop - not just food shopping choice but also 70 new jobs and up to 71 new homes including affordable housing.

"A significant amount of work has been undertaken to rigorously review all aspects of this planning application, including the retail assessment.

"During the planning process Lidl’s advisers have provided lengthy justification to the council as to why the Priory Centre location is not deemed suitable for a Lidl foodstore.

"Consequently, Bassetlaw Council’s planning officers agree with Lidl’s position that no ‘sequentially preferable’ site exists in Worksop town centre.

“It is now for councillors on the planning committee to make their decision.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.