A FORMER Southend mayor is backing budget supermarket chain Lidl’s second attempt to build a big new store in Eastwood.
Lidl was turned down last September, but has now submitted fresh plans for a site on the corner of Progress Road and Rayleigh Road, Eastwood.
The previous proposals appeared to have the backing of many local people. Of 800 people who attended an open day organised by the company to get views on its original plans last April, 587 said they supported them.
However, the council refused the application for the supermarket, which would have created 40 jobs.
It wants to see a mini-business park on the site, and says using the site for the supermarket would deprive the Progress Road Industrial Estate of valuable industrial land. It also argued the store would lead to traffic problems.
However, former Southend mayor Nora Goodman, who is chairman of Eastwood Residents’ Association backed the proposals and wants to see the council approve the revised application.
She said: “So many residents, from as far away as The Chase in Rayleigh, were disappointed when it was refused.
“It really upset an awful lot of people. Apart from employment, it will bring a great convenience to Eastwood that people want. I haven’t spoken to anyone who is opposed. It’s a wonderful idea.”
Council planners would still like to see a landmark building on such a busy and prominent junction. However, the German chain has come back with a distinctive new design, which offers 6,800sq ftt of office space in a tower as part of the store.
This has been added in an effort to overcome objections to the loss of employment land.
The 20,000sq ft store would have 74 parking spaces and replace the Safestore warehouse, which closed two years ago.
However, the 1.3acre store site would include part of neighbouring Essex Timber’s site, leading to the closure of that business.
Robert Byford, owner of Byfords Food Shop, in Eastwood Old Road, said: “I’m very surprised Lidl resubmitted the plans, because the objections are still valid.
“The traffic chaos it will cause is immense.
“The land is for a factory, not retail, and we are short of factory space.”